Interview by Alex Joy
Article Category: Boardrider 3 Comments
After surfing for roughly 7 years in the Florida Panhandle and spending a month living in Australia, Jessica Williams decided to leave everything she knew behind to move to Satellite Beach in search of more consistent swell. Thanks to her broad background in aquatic sports, lifeguarding, beach service, training and certifying lifeguards, and teaching swim lessons and water aerobics, Jessica had no problem finding a job teaching surf lessons in Cocoa Beach shortly after her arrival in the area. Jessica then started competing in surf contests throughout the County and soon became a member of ESA. At the end of her second season with them, she ranked 1st in the Central Florida District for Womens’ Longboard. Most recently, she has picked up a few sponsors and has worked with Sticky Bumps and Gravity Skateboards. Along with of her love of surfing and the ocean, Jessica also plays the guitar and composes music. She competed in the Cocoa Beach Library’s Singer/Songwriter Contest two years in a row, winning 1st Place overall in 2008 and also taking 1st for the People’s Choice Award in June 2009. Jessica says she’s already accomplished a lot of things she’s really wanted to do, but still wants to travel as much as she can. Still though, you get the sense that Cocoa Beach will always be the place she’ll call home. “Cocoa Beach simply defines my life,” she says. “Surfing defines my life.” If you had to surf and play music in one place for the rest of your life, where would you choose? It could very possibly be Cocoa Beach. I love it here. But if I could find a little island in the South Pacific where the surf was at least decent everyday and people just ate rice and beans for their three meals a day and worshiped cows, that’d be pretty sweet. What’s your favorite local surf spot? The Cocoa Beach Pier or 4th Street South. I’ve always lived in the 4th Street area, so it’s like my “home break.” But I’m really acquainted with the Pier and I enjoy knowing everyone out in the water — it makes for a better surfing experience, for sure. How would you describe your surf style? I prefer the old-school way of things, like heavy single-fin noseriders and retro fish. I prefer vulan cloth on any board, and heavy glass is always a pretty good thing too. It’s so smooth — like riding in a blimp or something. But I have to be careful because if it gets too heavy I can’t turn the darn thing! I love watching Alex Knost surf. He has this amazing style that is so modernized (yet totally not at all). I can’t put it into my own words, so I won’t try. What’s your best surf maneuver? Although I’m constantly working on better noserides, I still think I’m safer saying S-turns and cutbacks. I like knee paddle entries too, and I hardly ever see anyone else doing them! Your favourite all-around board is… ? I could say a fish or a longboard in general, but that’d be too easy. I like a good noserider because I’ll surf it in the smallest surf, and I’ll still be riding it in the gnarliest of hurricane swells. I like riding a lot of different styles of boards, but my 9’4″ O’Hare (vulan cloth; triple stringer) is my favorite board. Do you have a favorite artist or group you listen to before paddling out? It depends on the surf. If it’s head-high and glassy, I want something to stoke me out, like Damian Marley… or “Freebird”! But if it’s just another day, I like something good and mellow, usually reggae. Sometimes I even like to listen to Bluegrass before I paddle out just for spits and giggle — and just because it makes me feel a little more goofy and creative out in the agua. How long have you been into writing music? I can remember making up my own songs when I was just a little girl, but it wasn’t until I was in high school that I really started composing music on my guitar with my lyrics. I quit for several years and then started again about 2- 1/2 years ago. My dad was a composer and a writer as well. I never really played for anyone until the Singer/Songwriter Contest at the Cocoa Beach Library a couple of years ago when I won First Place overall, and then won the “People’s Choice” and everyone loved it! That’s when I really realized that I actually had something going on. Coffee or tea? Beer or wine? Electric or acoustic? Sweet tea is God’s gift to mankind, as far as I’m concerned, and I prefer imported beer or rum. And acoustic has way more soul… so does rum. Dream sponsor? Billabong. I really appreciate the fact that they donate a portion of their profits to the Surfrider Foundation and ocean protection efforts. And I’m a pretty eco-minded person, so the idea of making wetsuits out of old fishing nets is pretty rad. They’re doing all kinds of neat stuff, like making us “shark-proof.” Plus, I love the style. It’s very “me”. Who’s on your shout-out list? The people who’ve made the biggest impact on my life in the respected order: my Grandpa, Hal Tarpley, the Walker Family, Tom Grant, Dennis Griffin, Sean O’Hare, Rob Arrouet, and my girls. I love you all.