156: Sally McGee/Yonder

Sally McGee, June 2021. Photo: Tozer

After an unscheduled and very welcome month off, I’m back. This chat with Sally McGee from Yonder has been a long time coming, and is very much by public demand. As my followers on Instagram will know, I frequently run polls to ask listeners who I should speak to for future episodes. And after a while I noticed something: among the usual suspects like Hawk and Slater, one name kept popping up over and over again – Sally from Yonder.

I did some digging and quickly came to understand why. Yonder, which Sally runs with her husband Tom, is a surf school, a coaching company and a brand. But more than that, it symbolises an inclusive approach to surfing that has come along at the exactly the right time to meet the moment UK surfing finds itself in right now.

Photo: Tozer

So when I realised Sal would be in Devon at the same time I would be in May 2021, we arranged to catch up for what was only my third in-person interview since Covid came along. I’d almost forgotten how much more fun and enjoyable it is to do this in person, and what followed was a really lovely chat about about all things Yonder and Sal’s life in surfing.

I think Sal’s approach to surfing will really resonate with a lot of people, especially the way her and Tom have worked hard to build Yonder based upon their values, and a legitimate desire to create a genuinely inclusive community. Listen to the episode below:

Connect with Sal

Show Notes

  • The joy of recording in person
  • Experiences at The Wave
  • Translating styles from snowboarding to surfing 
  • Surf camp with Yonder 
  • Bringing women into surf culture
  • Teaching the right skills to be responsible in the water
  • The reward in seeing people develop 
  • Surf etiquette 
  • Sal’s background with the Red Cross, the Refugee Council and mentoring  
  • Building an identity around alternative counter culture 
  • Not feeling represented by the UK surf industry 
  • “’s obvious why there aren’t a lot of women..”
  • Misrepresentation by brands
  • The reasons behind creating Yonder
  • Creating the right environment to allow people to begin surfing with confidence 
  • Getting on the peak 
  • Using etiquette to keep beginners away 
  • Empowering people rather than excluding them 
  • ‘The old guard’
  • Sal’s way into surfing
  • Starting Yonder 
  • ‘Have fun, stay afloat’
  • The right way of doing things
  • Pushing against the female stereotype
  • Going forward 
  • The Lisfranc Fracture 

People Mentioned

  • Joel Tudor 
  • Torren Martyn
  • Tom Bing
  • Laura Conner
  • Devon Howard
  • Steve Crawford
  • Bill McGee
  • Steve Hudson 
  • Lauren Hill
  • Kassia Meador
  • Leah Dawson 
  • Dr Townsend  

Places Mentioned

  • Wales 
  • Bristol 
  • Scarborough 
  • Morocco 
  • Putsborough 
  • Cornwall 
  • Devon 
  • Saunton 
  • Bradford 
  • Australia 
  • Leeds 
  • California 
  • Tynemouth 

Companies, Brands, Organisations Mentioned

  • Yonder
  • Instagram
  • The Wave Bristol 
  • Girls Skate North East 
  • The Red Cross 
  • The Refugee Council
  • Fluid Concept 
  • True Ames 
  • Finisterre 
  • Patagonia