Review: Dear & Yonder

You may be wondering: why is Hoon reviewing a woman’s surf movie? Honestly, with an avid longboarder wife and now a little girl who we hope will become a great little ripper, I popped the DVD for Dear & Yonder into the laptop with some curiosity on my last plane ride home.

The film starts with a brief “history” of women’s surfing. To be honest, I almost turned off the film, but then you gotta reset your expectations. This film isn’t geared to be the next Taylor Steele film for a bunch of 16-year old testosterone-crazed ADHD kids. This film is for the ladies and as such, starts by giving you the story that no one else has told: namely that women were surfing in Hawaii with the guys way before Cap’n Cook came calling.

The historical section is a bit hokey, but it works. Dear & Yonder quickly transitions to the near past with the rise of Lisa Andersen, Layne Beachley, etc. With the pages of history set straight, we then see a nice little exchange between Andy and Ashley Davis (of Ando and Friends). One surfs while the other watches their son and does the wave count. I suspect that I’ll be in similar shoes shortly.

To characterize and explore all different types of wave-riding, the film also follows Judith Sheridan. Judith is a bodyboarder who routinely mixes it up with the best of them in the cold waters of Santa Cruz and even Mavericks. You’ve probably heard of Liz Clark and her around-the-world surf adventures from Patagonia or Surfer mag. We all get that wanderlust bug, and it’s impressive to see Liz chart the waters around the globe in search of waves, friends and adventure.

Dear & Yonder also includes female surfers near and far from Kassia Meador to shaper/surfer Ashley Lloyd to Sophia Mulanovich and Sally Fitzgibbons ripping it up on tropical waves. The film charts the progress of women’s surfing, and it paints a beautiful, compelling picture. From my POV, this film is just the start, and I’ll be looking for now a Taylor Steele-esque equivalent of women’s surfing as the segments with Sally Fitzgibbons, Stephanie Gilmore and Sophia Mulanovich steal the show.

At the end of the day, I’ll leave it to Lisa Andersen to explain what makes the trips (and subsequently the film) behind Dear & Yonder so compelling:

“What’s great about Dear & Yonder is that it has captured some many different individuals and the way they look to the sea to experience life, it really highlights how everyone’s experience can be very different at times.  The girls in the film have taken it to a whole new level. It is this story of the bond with the ocean and using it as a means to escape the world that we can all relate to.

“The talent of the future generation is just so tremendous and the sport has gotten so young, all of the sudden you have 15 year-olds breaking records and winning contests and I look forward to watching these girls holding the thrown for a while and seeing how far they can take women’s surfing.”

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