179: Yvette Curtis/Good Trouble

Yvette, Croyde, March 2022. Photo: Tozer

This week’s guest Yvette Curtis runs the amazing Wave Wahines, the women and girls only surf club through which she is on a mission to make surfing in the UK more accessible for women and girls from all cultures and ethnic communities.

I think the reason I’m such a fan of Yvette’s work, and why I was so keen to chat to her for the podcast, is that it’s a story of how one person can impact the grassroots.

I talk about lot on the podcast about how we need to ask questions of traditional surf culture. Well, Yvette is out there doing that work, and it’s through initiatives such as Wahines that change will happen. And, as I discovered during our conversation, it has come at sometimes great emotional and personal cost. Firstly, because like everybody, Yvette struggles with the dreaded imposter syndrome, and the very idea that she has any right to be a spokesperson on any of the issues we discuss.

Secondly: because anybody doing such work, and daring to pose questions of the status quo, can find themselves open to attack; something which happened to Yvette when she appeared on a BBC Spotlight segment and subsequently received a truly horrendous amount of bullying and abuse.

Undeterred, Yvette dusted herself down and came back more energised than ever to make a difference. As she should have one, because her experiences as a British woman of colour in the 21st century are real, impactful and challenging; and are as valid a contribution to our culture as somebody who is venerated for being good at riding a piece of wood, foam or carbon.

When ordinary people do extraordinary things, change can happen. Shining a light on such stories is basically why I started this podcast, and why I’m so glad Yvette agreed to come on the show.

Listen to the episode here:

Connect with Yvette

Show Notes

  • Cheers 
  • The concept of Reversibility 
  • Yvette’s job as a personal trainer
  • Retraining and starting Wave Wahines  
  • Surfing’s accessibility problem 
  • The BBC Spotlight piece, and the abuse Yvette received
  • Being an unwilling spokesperson 
  • ‘..when you’re privileged, everything feels like an act of oppression..’
  • The ability to challenge 
  • ‘Good trouble’
  • Phil Young 
  • Gender imbalances in surfing
  • Micro-aggressions 
  • Lack of representation 
  • Risk and working to be seen 
  • Composure 
  • Progression and wanting better for your kids 
  • Supporting and working with refugees 
  • The reaction from the surf community 
  • Transformative power and influences 
  • The research paper 
  • Opening up the Outdoors grant
  • Ambitions 
  • Understanding the barriers 
  • Chasing a change 
  • Surf Girl Summit 
  • Own it
  • Expanding 

Names Mentioned

  • Steve Cave
  • Liam Curtis 
  • George Floyd 
  • Phil Young
  • Rodney King
  • Sonny the dog 
  • Peg the dog
  • Tessa Sanderson 
  • Fatima Whitbread 
  • Daley Thompson 
  • Martina Burtscher
  • Easkey Britton 
  • Demi Taylor 
  • Amna Akhtar 
  • Tehillah McGuinness 

Places Mentioned

  • Lynmouth 
  • Croyde
  • Bristol 
  • Mauritius 
  • USA
  • North Devon 
  • Syria
  • Ukraine 
  • Sri Lanka 
  • Devon 
  • Bristol 
  • Cornwall
  • Brighton 
  • Birmingham 
  • Easton 

Organisations, Brands and Companies Mentioned

  • Wave Wahines 
  • Karma 
  • Surf South West 
  • BBC Spotlight 
  • Surfing England 
  • Sport England 
  • NHS
  • Include Summit 
  • Blue Earth Summit 
  • Black Girls Surf
  • Brown Girls Surf 
  • Textured Waves 
  • Pickwell Foundation
  • Institute for Women Surfers 
  • Arugum Bay Girls Surf Club 
  • Water 
  • Opening up the Outdoors Grant
  • The Wave Bristol 
  • GirlDreamer
  • Boarders without Borders 
  • National Lottery 
  • Dry Robe 
  • Hundo Careers 
  • The Kings Arms
  • Felix Road Adventure Playground 
  • The Bedruthan Hotel and Spa