TODAY |

Unassuming Ella Williams' journey from Whangamata grommet to surfing champion

With the Williams family you get the feeling the surf might not only be in the blood, but in their very souls.

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As part of a 1 NEWS Sport special, we’re telling the stories of some of our top athletes. Source: 1 NEWS

It's just the way it's always been for Ella, ever since she jumped on a board with mum and dad during frequent family weekends at Raglan, aged four.

“I just remember holding on for dear life," a laughing Williams recalled.

Her childhood was filled with classic Kiwi beach days - Marmite and chip sandwiches included.

When she was 7 the family moved to the beach town of Whangamata, on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Her time at the beach time increased and she began winning surfing competitions by 14.

“It lasted for a few events and then we were told that no some of the parents weren’t very happy with us cause their boys were getting beaten and it wasn’t cool,” Ella's mother Janine explained.

Williams became Junior World Champion at 18, returning home from Brazil to become the pride of the local surfing scene, her old school and her whole town.

Her original board from when she was six has become a symbol of memories the 25-year-old still treasures most.

“I remember when we were younger, we’d all go out on these cold nights and you’d smell the chimney smoke coming onto the water. and it would be freezing and there'd be no one else out there it's just us and we'd be out there having the time of our lives.”