First all-girls surf academy for Scarborough to get women out on the waves

Yorkshire is said to be the birthplace of British surfing, while the discovery of its existence is credited to the adventures of explorer Captain James Cook.

Scarborough surfer Ruby Wyborn is launching the first all-girls surf academy in the town to encourage teenagers back into sport at a time in their lives when they traditionally step out. The school will be run with Dexter's surf shop based in the North Bay. Picture: Tony Johnson
Scarborough surfer Ruby Wyborn is launching the first all-girls surf academy in the town to encourage teenagers back into sport at a time in their lives when they traditionally step out. The school will be run with Dexter's surf shop based in the North Bay. Picture: Tony Johnson

The region’s association with the sport may not be as famous as Bondi or Cornwall, but its beaches have long been a “hidden secret” among those chasing the waves.

Now, Scarborough’s first all-girls surf academy is about to be launched, in the hopes of capitalising on Yorkshire’s coastal charm while drawing women into the sport.

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With young girls dropping out of sporting activity at twice the rate of boys by the age of 14, surf instructor Ruby Wyborn hopes to reignite a passion for alternative options.

Scarborough surfer Ruby Wyborn is launching the first all-girls surf academy in the town to encourage teenagers back into sport at a time in their lives when they traditionally step out. The school will be run with Dexter's surf shop based in the North Bay. Picture: Tony Johnson

“Cornwall is known for its surfing, as that’s where it all properly began,” said Miss Wyborn, who is launching Ruby’s Rippers for girls on July 25. “But Scarborough is a hidden secret.

“I grew up surfing around Scarborough, but I always felt it was a male-dominated sport. There are so few women in the water, especially in winter.

“This is a programme to build confidence and self-esteem. It’s about trying to keep girls in sport, and help them find something they might actually enjoy.”

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Scarborough surfer Ruby Wyborn is launching the first all-girls surf academy in the town to encourage teenagers back into sport at a time in their lives when they traditionally step out. The school will be run with Dexter's surf shop based in the North Bay. Picture: Tony Johnson

According to the Women in Sports Foundation, girls drop out of sport at twice the rate of boys by age 14, with access, social stigma and a lack of role models all playing a part.

In surfing, it is believed women make up just 20 per cent of those on the waves.

Miss Wyborn, who has coached in Australia and Cornwall, says while it is becoming more female oriented in some parts of the world, in Yorkshire it’s mainly men in the water.

“There are so few role models, I think, up here in the North East,” she said. “There are lots of alternative sports for boys, but perhaps less for girls.

Scarborough surfer Ruby Wyborn is launching the first all-girls surf academy in the town to encourage teenagers back into sport at a time in their lives when they traditionally step out. The school will be run with Dexter's surf shop based in the North Bay. Picture: Tony Johnson

“In my eyes it’s about finding something that is interesting. I was never that into hockey, or rounders, or the traditional sports you can be pushed into at school.”

There are an estimated 500,000 surfers in the UK, according to environmental charity SAS, with nearly seven per cent based in the North East.

Most are aged 25 to 44, and educated to degree level, contributing at economic spent of £1.8bn a year.

Yorkshire's swells

Scarborough surfer Ruby Wyborn is launching the first all-girls surf academy in the town to encourage teenagers back into sport at a time in their lives when they traditionally step out. The school will be run with Dexter's surf shop based in the North Bay. Picture: Tony Johnson

Yorkshire’s surf, which can dip in temperature to 6C in winter, may not be as famous as England’s southern beaches says Miss Wyborn, but it can hold its own.

“This coast is one of the best surfing areas in England, all the way from Whitby to Northumberland,” she said. “Up here, you get as good waves as anywhere.

“It’s such an enjoyable sport - great not just for fitness but for mental health.

“On social media the image is of Instagram models, with sun bleached hair,” she adds.”In reality, it’s quite an intense sport, especially in England with the cold water.

“Up here it’s such a friendly community, of like minded people who just enjoy the surf and have a shared passion.”

Yorkshire’s links to surfing date back centuries to when explorer Captain Cook was the first European to discover the sport in Hawaii in 1778.

Scarborough surfer Ruby Wyborn is launching the first all-girls surf academy in the town to encourage teenagers back into sport at a time in their lives when they traditionally step out. The school will be run with Dexter's surf shop based in the North Bay. Picture: Tony Johnson

In 1890, Bridlington emerged as the unlikely birthplace of British surfing, hosting two Hawaiian prices as the first people to grace the nation’s waves.

Harry Potter star Rupert Grint would later champion the surf here, fronting a Staycations campaign to ask why anyone would go surfing elsewhere.

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Surfer Ruby Wyborn. Picture by @goleftimages