Thea McDonald-Lee

One afternoon Holty’s phone rang. It was Mark Ogram, owner of the local surfboard manufacture in town and an old friend. “We’re looking for someone to work at the shop, you don’t have any guys on the course you could point our way do you?” Holty thought for a minute. “I don’t have any guys”, he replied, “But I’ve got a girl…”


I first met Mark as part of the Surf Science degree. We were doing the rounds of established West Australian surf brands and learning the business of surfing. Our class spent mornings in Dunsborough with Creatures of Leisure, and we watched Josh Kerr and Jay Davies working on a fashion shoot up at Rusty in Perth. But it was meeting Mark Ogram, the pirate from New Zealand who still hand-shaped surfboards out the back and wore shackles in his ears, that truly cemented it for me.


When the call came from Mark with an offer to join the family at Yahoo, I didn’t hesitate in quitting my other job. I couldn’t wait to start. I learnt the ropes and the who’s who of the Dunsborough locals. I learnt to entertain the men who walked through the doors and looked at me with squinted eyes and merely said, “Where’s Hillsy?” Towards the end of my degree I used my time at Yahoo for my independent study unit, and worked with Mark to create a brand new website. After moving over from the other side of the world, I couldn’t feel more like I was home.


After finishing my degree I took a hiatus from Dunsborough, cruising in and out of Indonesia and spending some time in Sydney. I got lucky and landed a freelance writing job with Tracks Magazine, spending the majority of 2014 chasing the ASP World Championship Tour around the globe. There are so many stories that make up the colour of our industry and in between all the contests, I met amazing people along the way. I still use the leash Steph gave me after Medina won the world title and jamming out on the uke with Tom Curren is bright in my memories.


For all the glamour and prestige of professional surfing, there’s nothing better than the feeling of coming home. Before I’d even landed back in Dunsborough I’d been talking with Mark about getting back on board. I’m so excited to be back at Yahoo and revamping the website again. Only this time the photography is light years ahead thanks to my talented brother.


It’s been seven years since I was initiated into the clan at Yahoo and I couldn’t feel more privileged than to be the parrot squawking away on Mark’s shoulder.


See What She Seas for more of Thea's words.


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