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Tragic Shark Attack Takes Kiteboarder Felix Louis N’jai

On Monday, Latitude 38 reader Edward Stancil sent us a link to a story about a shark attack off Point Reyes. Sadly, we’ve since learned the victim was much-loved foiling kite surfer Felix Louis N’jai, who had attended a camping wedding with friends on Saturday before several people took a Sunday swim the next day. According to KPIX Channel 5, Marin County firefighters responded to a call that three men had gone for a swim about 25 to 50 yards offshore when an apparent shark attack occurred. After an extensive search, N’jai’s body has not been found.

Felix was a regular and accomplished kiting competitor on the Bay, with a large, admired presence in the kiting community. He took third place in the 2022 Ronstan Bridge to Bridge, and eighth this year.

Felix Louis N'jai
Felix Louis N’jai, second from right, took third place in the 2022 Ronstan Bridge to Bridge Race.
© 2023 Latitude 38 Media LLC / John

We spoke with fellow kiteboarder Geoff Headington, who shared a couple of memories of Felix: “We trained together and referred to each other by the nickname ‘coach’ since we were always helping to uplevel each other’s abilities. Felix was an incredibly upbeat, energetic and happy personality who was always a huge positive influence at any gathering on the water — or anywhere. Felix has a wide circle of friends from many different spheres. He was always pulling people together and invited me regularly to Thanksgiving football scrimmage despite my never being able to attend. He’d also rent a restaurant in Cole Valley every year where everyone would sing Christmas carols. He’d always say to us, ‘See you in church,’ which, to him, meant the church of the world, or see you in your community.

“He had a nickname and personal relationship with everyone. When a crowd of friends were asked if they thought Felix was their best friend, a large majority would raise their hands.

“Another quiet passion of his was an effort to become the kiteboarding Olympic representative of his native country, Gambia. He kept it quiet, but it looked like he was on track to make it happen, and I was hoping to join him as ‘coach.’ He kept it on the down low in case it all didn’t come together, but he’d been working on it for two years and was planning to be in France in 2024.”

Felix Louis N’jai waxed poetic about kiteboarding, telling Oregon Public Broadcasting, “I really love the speed, I have to say. And now, like, I cannot tell you, like, it’s so fun when you crank and you go and you are in the groove.”
© 2023 Facebook/Oregon Public Broadcasting

We also spoke with 5O5 sailor Mike Martin, who described Felix: “I loved the guy. He was a huge presence in the Bay Area kiteboarding scene. He always had a big smile and was a genuine character who made our community feel better. It’s a terrible irony that we’ve done so many crazy things sailing the Bay and he’s taken from us while just off a beach. He was a truly, truly great guy to all of us.”

Geoff said there was an impromptu memorial at Crissy Field on Monday, attended by the groom, who was swimming with him when the attack occurred. He said they had a regular swimming ritual in the Bay, and the groom was one of the friends who decided to join for the Sunday swim after the wedding. The groom was there with the kiteboarding group on Crissy Field to grieve and share the moment with everyone’s mutual friend.

It is exceptionally painful for both family and the kiteboarding community that knew and loved Felix so well. It’s always difficult to see news reports contain a reference to how incredibly rare shark attacks are. There are swimmers, kite- and windsurfers, surfers and many others who swim regularly off Bay Area shores. Attacks rarely occur, and a fatality is even rarer. This is, however, the “season” when great white sharks congregate along the Northern and Central California coast; most sightings are between September and October, before white sharks migrate toward Hawaii in December, and return in August.

According to KPIX, Dave Ebert, the director of San Jose State’s Pacific Shark Research Center, said: “They tend to hunt where they have an advantage. If you think about the surf, you know, the sea lions can’t always pick up on stuff because of all the [wave] activity. And that’s where whites will often attack.”

The loss of Felix Louis N’jai is devastating. He was a bright light amongst his circles of friends, and he will be sorely missed by everyone who foils and kites the Bay.

15 Comments

  1. Mike Mahoney 5 months ago

    Oh no…

    Just a grand guy and always a smile and friendly word.

    RIP Felix

  2. alexis.preel 5 months ago

    Such a great guy.
    Really honored to have shared some moments with him on the water.
    RIP Felix

  3. Anne 5 months ago

    We miss him so much!

  4. Pablo Arce 5 months ago

    I just heard today – horrible news and horrible thing to happen to anyone – but Felix was the type of guy you were always happy to see he was there. Always at Crissy, always smiling. Super sad about this, and still in shock.

  5. Art 5 months ago

    I’m so saddened to hear this news. Felix was such a positive person and this is a huge loss.

  6. Rochelle 5 months ago

    Felix, the brightest light. RIP ❤️

  7. Stephen 5 months ago

    It’s sad to hear of anyone losing their life. Such a tragedy. Rest peaceful my brother.

    I stopped surfing that part of the coast years ago. Too sharky year around.. Same with the point conception area I don’t surf there in the fall at all after a couple years of attacks in the same spot. Know your surroundings when you enter the ocean.

  8. Sofia Prokop 5 months ago

    ‘See you in church’ Felix.
    Here is a google drive folder for photo and memory sharing.
    https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1sFqWWIzKX3wDo393MrBOBDL98xAZlyEv

  9. Skip 5 months ago

    RIP FELIX❤️🙏😊🤙

  10. Marcella 5 months ago

    Felix was truly one in a million! A kind and caring soul who went deeper to know people. A smile that made anyone forget their troubles. Not only was he a great friend to the adults in each of his communities, he created special relationships with his friends’ children. He had a knack with children. He showed a genuine interest in children and their own unique passions. On a personal level, he played golf with my son. He also sacrificed his wind time to work with my kids on learning to wing foil. We are devastated by his passing. Felix you are so loved, thank you for sharing what a beautiful person you were.

  11. Mara 5 months ago

    What a loss,so painful have to say goodbye to a rare precious soul. 💔

  12. Alain 5 months ago

    I’m devastated. Such a kind soul full of joy… RIP Felix

  13. hardy danger 5 months ago

    Felix had that smile on his face every time you sailed by him. His stoke was infectious.

  14. Justin Hsu 5 months ago

    If anyone knows of a memorial / get together or is organizing one please let me know. I know there’s not traditional arrangements that can be made, but if people are celebrating his life would be great to bring people together – just like he did. Thank you for posting the google drive.

  15. Beth 5 months ago

    I would also be interested in any memorial service, if someone knows of one and would be kind enough to share here.

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