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West Orange Times & Observer Friday, Nov. 19, 2021 7 months ago

Sister surfers make a splash

Sisters Chelsea and Sofia Caywood are enjoying success in the water.
by: Chris Martucci Sports Editor

Most surfers share the same story. 

They mostly have grown up near a beach their whole lives and learned to surf from an early age. Having that natural feel for the water and knowing when the waves are coming is innate to most beach-raised surfers.

But Chelsea and Sofia Caywood are lake-raised surfers — their house is located on the shore of Little Lake Sawyer. And the duo is starting to show they are just as good, if not better, than beach-raised surfers. Last summer, both competed at national and international competitions and came away with high results. 

Chelsea Caywood, 12, competed in a modular event for the Competitive Wake Surf Association World Championships and was ranked second heading into the tournament. The event was modular because of the COVID restrictions some countries still were enforcing. Even though most of her competitors were boys, she still came away with a fifth-place finish. 

“I was nervous due to the competition I faced, but it was fun,” she said. 

Sofia Caywood, 8, went to the World Championship competition for wakeboarding. Despite having to compete against kids twice her age and dealing with the nerves that such a competition demands, she came away with a sixth-place finish. 

“They could do shove sevens, which are really hard — they should be pros in my mind,” Sofia Caywood said. “I was super nervous, so I feel I didn’t do my best, but I have another year. I was shaking the whole time, which is why I didn’t land all my tricks.” 

Chelsea Caywood took up wake-surfing at age 10 out of necessity — she learned she had “fragile ankles” during her wakeboarding days. Her father and coach, Sean Caywood, said she suffered 10 sprained ankles in two years. 

“It wasn’t that big of a transition to wake-surfing, because I did it a little bit when I was little,” Chelsea Caywood said. “It helped me with my tricks, so I excelled fast, but I was so used to going out into the wave, I would not land my tricks as much, because you’re supposed to go straight.” 

In her first wake surfing competition at age 10, she placed third. 

Sofia Caywood has been wakeboarding since she was 4. Although she has enjoyed success, it wasn’t always that way.

“I was the face-planting queen,” Sofia Caywood said. 

The girls are privately coached. A coach comes over to the house and coaches each for one hour a day — two hours total — during the summer. During the school year, it’s shortened to 30 minutes, when the weather cooperates.

Sean Caywood also works with them to help keep them prepared for each new competition. As a former aquatic athlete himself, he knew he wanted to have his girls involved with water sports. 

“I like being out on the boat and thought it was something good to get my girls involved with,” Sean Caywood said. 

He would like to see the sport grow but recognizes the financial challenges that come with that. 

“I hope that the sport becomes a bit more accessible to get more people involved because it’s a lot of fun,” Sean Caywood said. 

Chelsea Caywood eventually hopes to become a professional wake surfer. She said in one more year, she would have the chance to do that. Sofia also hopes to become a professional, as well.

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Chris Martucci is the sports editor for the West Orange Times & Observer,  Southwest Orange Observer and He holds a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri — Columbia School of Journalism, as well as a bachelor's degree in...

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