When it comes to riding the wave of success, Ella Williams is something of a pro. The accomplished surfer may be making it big on the waves around the globe, but her humble Whangamata hometown roots means she also remains well grounded.
As a member of the Regional Talent Programme led by Sport Waikato, Ella has enjoyed a year of huge success and growth – and her future looks set to continue soaring.
The vivacious surfer has always had the positive drive and focus to succeed; right back to when she started surfing when just four years old. Guided by dad Deano and older brother Braedon, surfing was an immediate hit with the tiny blonde – and she has never deviated from her determination to excel.
Ella was only six when she announced that she was going to be a world champion surfer, writing her goal on her bedroom wall so she could see it every day. Just 12 years later she checked off that ambition, when she became the Women’s World Junior Surf Champion last year.
She has also won New Zealand national titles across all age divisions at a junior level and is currently ranked 28th on the World Surf League (WSL) Open Women’s Qualifying Series.
Her latest achievement was representing New Zealand at the International Surfing Association (ISA) World Champs in Nicaragua, where she impressed enough to take the bronze medal.
While these achievements are impressive in their own right, they are stepping stones to her ultimate goal; to become the number one surfer in the world on the WSL circuit.
With her mantra being #ImagineDreamBelieve, Ella is firmly committed to constant improvement and growth and is quick to credit the team of people around her.
Just as importantly she is an excellent role model for other young surfers and athletes, with a sunny positive outlook and quiet determination.
Fitness Journal catches up on Ella’s recent journey:
What have you been up to since we last caught up?
(Ella has previously featured on the cover of Fitness Journal)
The last 12 months have been huge. I have learned more than I thought possible in one year. I have experienced new waves, new cultures and met many amazing people.
Where has surfing taken you?
So far this year I have been to about nine different countries; Australia, Mexico, El Salvador, France, Spain, Portugal, Costa Rica, Japan and USA. So many stunning memories but the highlight would have to be Azores, in Portugal. It was the most beautiful and breath-taking place I have ever been to (apart from NZ).
• 2016 France Lacanau Pro – 1st
• 2016 Anglet Pro France – 2nd
• 2016 Morocco, Roxy Pro – 3rd
• 2016 Open Women National Champ – 1st
• 2016 Rip Curl Pro – 1st
What is your greatest challenge?
Life throws you all sorts of challenges every day. Some are physical such as the weather, and some are mental. Whatever sort of challenge comes my way, I see it as a great way to grow.
What are your future goals?
My ultimate goal is to win another world title and achieve my dream of being on the Women’s World Tour. Also to always be happy in everything I do and continue to grow as a surfer and athlete.
What has been a significant change for you this year?
If I’m very honest, one of the biggest changes in my life has been Daniella Meier (director of Born To Be Bold). Her influence has been incredible and taught me that you can truly be and do anything you put your mind to. Anything is possible. I feel so lucky and grateful to have such a wonderful mentor in my life.
What has been a highlight for you this season?
One of the best performances I enjoyed this year would have to be at the Lacanau Pro in France. The waves were incredible. I felt like I could really just surf and not worry about anything other than my surfing That was a great feeling.
Where will you be this summer?
As much as possible will be spent surfing, but also working in my parents’ surf shop (Whangamata Surf Shop).
Who is the team around you?
I am so lucky to have a very strong team around me. My amazing family are my everything and support me in anything I wish to do in my life. Daniella Meier from Born To Be Bold mentors me through every step of the way. Another great person in that is huge in my life is Tony Kemp who is a great mentor and team manager. My surfing coach Martin Dunn is based in Australia but I have worked with him since I was 15. And my strength and conditioning coach Oliver Farley who has worked at the HPC (High Performance Surfing Centre).
What has been the highlight of 2016?
Winning the Lacanau Pro in France.
What is new to your event training this year?
Definitely learning from my losses and how to turn them into a positive and learn from it. It’s the only way to grow!
What would be the ultimate for you in 2017?
To qualify for the Women’s World tour 2018. To enjoy the moments in life.
Your tips for others wanting to get involved in the sport of surfing?
Keep at it! Good things take time. So long as you are enjoying it that’s all that matters.
Your fave Waikato surf spot and why?
Raglan. I actually grew up surfing there. It is an amazing place to surf at with world class waves.
Sponsors and supporters?
My amazing sponsors – this journey would not be possible without their continued support and belief in me. I’m so fortunate to be on the Air Tahiti Nui team who look after me like family and fly me all around the world.
Ripcurl supports me with the latest clothes, bikinis and wetties, and I have the prettiest towel sponsor Hammamas. They have the most lightweight gorgeous towels I have ever seen! Pita Pit takes care of me when I get hungry – after long surfs, stopping off at Pita Pit on the way home is the best!
Sky Next has been amazing financially, opening up so many opportunities for me media-wise and the opportunity to meet other Sky Next athletes from all over NZ.
Daniella Meier from Born To Be Bold for mentally getting me in the right frame of mind. Tony Kemp my amazing manager. Tania Niwa photographer. Ocean and Earth looks after my surf hardware.
Whangamata Surf Shop is my go-to surf shop and are lifetime sponsors. Anderson Surfboards supports me with some amazing surfboards.
And number one, my family.