Ellie Aldridge speaks to Female First in an exclusive interview
Ellie Aldridge speaks to Female First in an exclusive interview

It only feels like five minutes ago since the Olympics were taking place in Tokyo, but a kite foiler from Poole in Dorset is already looking ahead to the 2024 Games in Paris, but she concedes it’s not always at the forefront of her mind.

Ellie Aldridge grew up on the water whether that be sailing, kite boarding or kite surfing but now she’s a professional in kite foiling and she has the titles and medals to prove it.

However, she’s still on the hunt for gold and beat her rival who always comes out on top in competitions.

Aldridge spoke to Female First about her Olympic ambitions, explained how she got into kite foiling and revealed what she wants her ultimate career achievement to be.

Why kite foiling?

I’ve been a sailor all my life, so I grew up sailing, I’m from Poole in Dorset and my whole family sail. And I had some friends that kite surfed, they did it and I thought it was really, really cool but I thought it was almost like too cool for me. It was something I looked at but never really thought I’d do it. I got a bit older and then I just joined some of my friends and watched them on the water a bit and they taught me how to do it. I learnt how to kite surf just for fun and then the British Sailing Team put together this talent iD process to get females into kite board racing because there wasn’t that many that did it, but it’d just become a new Olympic sport.

There was only like one or two people in the whole of the country that raced, so I applied for it and was one of the people that fit the criteria to trial, and it went on until the autumn of 2018. I did that and really enjoyed it and basically, I just got more involved in the racing – it took about a year to properly learn everything and get into the circuit. After a year I was fully immersed in it and now I do it full time.

Ellie Aldridge says she
Ellie Aldridge says she "grew up on the water"

What’s your first memory of being out on the water?

I grew up on the water, we used to sail a boat called the AV, I used to share a boat with my siblings so each weekend a different person would go out sailing. And my parents used to have a bigger yacht, so we used to go cruising on that quite a bit. I had quite a few friends that did sail, but it was more for just having fun really when I was younger.

What’s the difference between kite boarding and kite foiling?

I guess the main difference between what I do which is kite foil racing and just kiteboarding, like recreational, is that on a normal kite board there’s just a board with straps and you just go back and forth, you can do jumps and stuff but it’s pretty simple in terms of kit.

But I have a hydrofoil board so it’s like a tiny ironing board style board with a big carbon fibre foil on the bottom of it, it’s quite sharp and it’s relatively light. Basically, when you get going you lift up out of the water onto the hydrofoil and that means you can go a lot faster and you do course racing so you go upwards and downwards and round so it means our kites are slightly more higher, they’re a bit more like paragliding kites so you don’t pump them up they just inflate with the wind. The kit is just designed to be as performance enhancing as possible, it’s quite tricky to get on with to begin with and learn but it just enables you to go a lot faster and point closer to the wind.

"When I first started, I didn’t know if I was going to actually be good at it or anything," says Ellie Aldridge

How did it feel to win silver at the 2021 Formula Kite World Championships?

It was really cool, it’s fun because similarly to me there’s a lot of new people that have got into it over the past two or three years so pretty much every event, we go to the level is increasing quite a lot so you never really know where you’re going to be at. Now it’s a little bit more settled but everyone is improving so much, you literally never know until you get there. It was really good; I was really happy to be able to bring it all together.

You’re now a two-time European champion, so how much does that mean to you?

When I first started, I didn’t know if I was going to actually be good at it or anything, so it’s really nice to have something to show for all of the hard work and everything I do, I guess.

Kite foil racing is different to recreational kiteboarding
Kite foil racing is different to recreational kiteboarding

Have you had any thoughts about the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, or have you not let that enter your head yet?

Kind of everything I’m doing is leading up to that, like I’m part of the British Sailing Team, so the kite foilers are a corner of the British Sailing Team so we get quite immersed in the whole campaign towards Paris 2024. Everything I do is I guess a little bit thinking about that, like leading up to that a little bit even though it’s a long way out there’s a lot of different things that take a lot of time to come together and everything in the sport is determined by the weather and the conditions, so we need to get practice in.

And the venue is going to be in Marseille in the south of France, so training there and just doing lots of different racing practice. I don’t think about it all the time because obviously a lot of it is about doing well now but I definitely think about it sometimes.

Do you have an ultimate achievement in your head of something you want to accomplish in your career?

I mean I definitely would like to win a gold medal, not just an Olympic gold medal but there’s been the American girl, Daniela Moroz, who’s in the kite foiling circuit, she’s been at the top for so long that like to beat her and win at the biggest events would be amazing.

"I definitely would like to win a gold medal..."

Written by Lucy Roberts for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @Lucy_Roberts_72.

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