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Ella Johnson out for a wave session at Waddell. Intense images and quite a talent in kiting. What were you doing at 16 years? This is what Ella has been up to. The day these pictures were taken the swell was averaging 5-8 feet, and the intervals in between them were unpredictable. Looks real relaxed to me, having fun.
She has been kiting for nearly 3 seasons here in the Bay Area. She started kiting after her dad, who is now a co-owner of Bay Area Kitesurf. I asked her why she got into the sport? "Let's just say i was tired of sitting on sand-blown beaches, watching my dad have fun. I learned in Alameda and Sherman Island. We usually balance out waves and freestyle, and I love both. I think having both backgrounds is essential to be an overall good sport. I have also been getting into racing, and was placed first women in the Cabrinah Kite Series: My goal is now to make them have a seperate Women ranking:We worked just as hard as the men.I ride for Bay Area Kitesurf/F-One."
I asked her about her most memorable day. She said it would be warm water, blue sky, 20-25 knots, flat in the inside waves on the outside conditions, with her riding crew. Her favorite place to ride is La Ventana, Sherman Island, and Wadell for the waves.
I asked her about challenges, scary moments out in the waves. She has had the usual problems, in the waves ala a run in the spin cyle of the washing machine or being sushi rolled up. It scares her (and lots of the rest of us) being held under, especially the time she was under for a little longer then 12 seconds. (ed. - is that honesty or what? How many would say, it was a minute or more?!) Lucky she had her kite up in the air, and knew it well enough to control it blindly. However, had it been in the water and dragging her down ward, she wouldn't hesitate to completly release the kite. Ella comments that she thinks that is a big problem for most people, they need to feel comfortable letting the whole rig off. She concluded "after all, a life is better then a kite." In spades.
I asked her about advice for women. "Don't let the big boys scare you...They're not any better. I've been lucky to have the constant support from the local Caution crew down in Santa Cruz, which is something most people work towards down there. Also, just go for anything, because if you know your equipment well, you know that if anything happens that scares you, you can pop the safety: there is nothing wrong with that."
Shoreside photos by Bruce Johnson
That lead me to a natural set of questions advice for girls with kiting family wanting to get in ... and advice for dads thinking about getting their daughters into riding. "I would tell girls to remember that they can have just as much fun as their fathers: Because if they can kite, there's no reason why the girls cannot. Same to girls with brothers: they could make a great team, helping each other out. Moreover, for the fathers, i'd have to tell them to make more of an effort to get their girls involved: We are stronger then they think. My father still worries about me in the water, almost as much as i worry about him. I just remind him that i know how to swim and where my safety is."
Waddell Creek, CA, you can even see kites on the beach and one in the air. This must be a small wave day!
Youth, drive and talent, a great combination. As an aside, she writes better than some project managers I know. Suspect Ella has a intriguing career ahead of her both on and off the water.
Thanks Ella, have fun out there!
Riding shots by Ryan Lamb and Josh Anon