A group of teenage girls surf together in Jupiter, passionate about sports

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Gianna Mazzota, a sixth-grader at Jupiter Middle School, would like to go to college in Florida to stay close to her family, but also be near the ocean to pursue her dream of becoming a professional surfer.

Older sister Tessa Mazzota, 13, plans to maintain high grades at Jupiter Middle to get into a good college on the coast somewhere where she can surf and become a firefighter in her hometown of Jupiter.

Jupiter's Sofia Mazzota rides a wave during one of a group of girls' surfing sessions.

Sofia Mazzota, the eldest at 15, would like to go to college near the beach (maybe UNF or UF) to study business and become a real estate agent.

For the three girls and their close-knit group of surfer friends, riding the waves will stay strong for the crest of their lives.

“The way you feel when riding a wave is the best feeling, and you feel so peaceful and happy that you never want to leave,” Sofia said. “Since I started surfing, I fell in love with it.”

Sophomore year Jupiter High got her start in surfing thanks to her dad, who got her into tandem surfing when she was 3 years old. He grew up surfing himself, always loved it and wanted to share it with his daughters.

Sofia practices other sports and therefore only practiced surfing until COVID-19. When the pandemic hit, the sisters got more serious. They got new boards and started to progress.

Jupiter's Tessa Mazzota rides a wave during a session with her group of teenage girls.

For Tessa, the younger sister, her father’s influence also helped her get involved.

“When I saw him surfing, it made me want to, so I gave it a try,” Tessa said. “I loved it, and now my whole family surfs. What attracts me to surfing is how I can interact with my friends and catch good waves. I also like water, so it’s a win-win.

Hannah Sandel, 14, of Palm Beach Gardens, is one of a group of about a dozen girls who ride the waves along Jupiter’s beaches. She attended the Conservatory School in North Palm Beach. Like the Mazottas, she plans to attend college near the beach in Florida. She would like to become a marine biologist and professional surfer.

“One day I would love to travel and surf some of the best spots in the world,” Hannah said.

His favorite thing about surfing? The feeling of being free.

“Surfing makes me so much happier, especially when I’m in line with my friends,” Hannah said. “Also, I love surfing the sunset. It’s so beautiful and very peaceful.

Even the girls in the group who have only surfed for a short time have a story about the best wave they have ever caught.

For Hannah, it was at Xanadu at Juno Beach.

“I was outside when I saw this bomb coming,” Hannah said. “I started paddling as he got closer and then I caught him – the best left (wave) of my life.

The wave came up perfectly, she said, and she had it all to herself. She made three turns and a cut on it.

“The wave took off right to shore,” Hannah said. “I will never forget that wave.”

Gianna Mazzota on the Board of Directors.

For Gianna, her best wave came in Costa Rica at Pavones. She was sitting next to Tessa in a 6-8 foot surf, and she found a right (wave) coming in. She paddled the hardest to get the wave and finally got into it. She hit the hip shortly after popping up, then did a big carve.

“The wave was starting to end so I saw this spot on the wave where it was coming to the other side and did the biggest float I’ve ever done,” Gianna said. “The feeling it gave me inside was indescribable.”

The sisters surf for fun, exercise and the company of other girls who share their passion. Every day, a handful can be found in the water at the Inlet, Civic Center, or Xanadu – whenever there’s a hint of surfable wave.

“They surf in all elements, are hardworking students and kind and exceptional members of their communities,” said the sisters’ mother, Amy Mazotta.

The girls pose on the beach during the ESA competition in Jupiter on January 23.  Back row, left to right: Myelle Wittbold, Hannah Sandel, Tessa Mazzota, Kinley Sandel, Carly Wittbold, Ella Ventzek, Gianna Mazzota and Moraya Prince.  Front row: Ashley Van Vost.

Dedication swells among the sisters and their friends when it comes to the sport they love. For the past few years, with so many things shut down, they’ve entered surfing competitions — just to ride that wave.

Eleven-year-old Carly Wittbold, who also attends Jupiter Middle, has surfed in Eco Pro, ESA, Show Your Fins, The Florida Cup and Gnarly Charley Surf Series. Some competitions she excelled at, and some she didn’t do as well. But each competition inspired her to be better.

“Competitions mean a lot to me,” Carly said. “They make me work harder when I’m not doing as well. I really love being there with all my friends and family, and I love being with so many people who love surfing as much as I do.

Carly from Tequesta plans to do well in school and eventually get a job that gives her lots of free time to surf, or a job related to the ocean.

Ella Ventzek, 11, of Palm Beach Gardens, has competed in ESA, Gnarly Charly and the Florida Cup.

“Competition shows me that I’m a small fish in a big pond, and I think it’s okay for me to lose sometimes,” Ella said. “If I win, I feel good about myself and that keeps me confident.”

Confidence. Strength. Persistence. To resolve. All of them largely explain why these girls have developed such an attachment to this quest for balance, in and out of the water.

Take Gianna, 11 years old. In her first competitions, she did not place, but it was a good training. Then she started placing. She won a few first-place trophies. At that time she was sponsored by GroundSwellSurfShop, MickMillerSurfBoards and SharkBanz.

The secret of his success?

“I’m drawn to surfing because of my love of the ocean,” she said.

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