The Scarborough Surfer Who Is Introducing Teenage Girls to the Joy of Surfing
Ruby Wyborn is on a mission to improve the retention of young women in sport by introducing teenage girls to the joy of surfing in Scarborough
‘I started Ruby’s Rippers as a way to try and get more teenage girls into sport. Both getting them into it, but also keeping them there,’ Ruby explains. ‘My focus is on changing mindsets and keeping girls involved through and past their teenage years, and into adult life. It’s taken off now and created a community of female surfers in Yorkshire, which is really nice,’ she continues. ‘We now have a Facebook page that’s a space for women to get together and surf for free, called North Yorkshire Women’s Surf Club – as well as a women’s skateboarding club too.’
Ruby is also passionate about representing the surfing scene in Yorkshire. When most people think of surfing in the UK, they fall into the habit of largely imagining Newquay and the South West coast. But Ruby wants to sing the praises of Scarborough, a brilliant surfing community that’s perfect for newcomers.
‘There are loads of secret and amazing places to surf in Scarborough. We’re lucky because the headland juts out further here, and both the North and South Bay have fantastic waves, as does further up in Cayton,’ she continues. ‘South Bay for example is slightly sheltered, which is great for practicing if you’re just learning, whereas if you want to get a bit more advanced, Cayton Bay is great to move up a level.
‘There are loads of secret and amazing places to surf in Scarborough. We’re lucky because the headland juts out further here, and both the North and South Bay have fantastic waves’
‘It’s a super close-knit community here, it’s lovely,’ Ruby assures us. ‘It’s very friendly and everyone knows each other, you always see people you know when you’re out surfing. I think people are brought together by having to swim in freezing water all year round,’ she laughs. ‘There’s a few great surf shops like Fluid Concept and Secret Spot, which are really ingrained in the surf community. I do think what’s lacking is proper surf cafés – there’s a few in North Bay, but in the next few years more are definitely going to start cropping up.’
Accessibility, as mentioned earlier, is a barrier that stops many women and those with less money from diving into more niche sports. Ruby recognises this, as does the wider Scarborough surfing community – but that shouldn’t put anyone off.
‘It can feel quite inaccessible at first glance, especially if you don’t have much money and you can’t justify the expense of a board and a wetsuit,’ Ruby admits. ‘Which is why charities like The Wave Project are trying to work to break down that barrier further. For anyone wanting to start surfing, the best advice is to go down to your local surf school, give it a go, then see how you get on. If you want the kit, then buy second hand and go from there. Facebook Marketplace has great cheap boards and wetsuits, then you can decide if you want to commit to the new gear.’
Wanting everyone to give Yorkshire surfing a go, Ruby explains the benefits surfing has not just on the body, but especially on the mind – something many may not have experienced.
‘It’s a great sport if you love to clear your mind. When you’re surfing you can’t think of anything else because of the focus required, so it’s great for stress relief and therefore mental health,’ she explains. ‘Cold water is also great for tackling anxiety, and cold water is something Yorkshire has in spades.’
Ruby is continuing to share what she loves with the women that may find solace in Yorkshire’s waters. From young mums to anxious teens wanting something new, Ruby is keen to help build a future where as many women can be seen on the breaking waves as men.
‘I think in the past 10 years or so the change has been unreal. What girls have access to now is brilliant, accessibility has come a long way for everyone. I do think there’s more that can be done, though,’ she continues. ‘When I was surfing growing up, there wasn’t much representation – maybe 15 guys in the water at a time and not a single girl. That could’ve put off other girls from going in. I just want to give an extra push to those women that really want to be involved. I want to see the Yorkshire surf scene booming, and surfing is a great opportunity to get, and keep, women involved.’