Caroline Marks upsets Carissa Moore to win first world surfing title
American Caroline Marks won her first surfing world title by taking down Carissa Moore, the Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion.
Marks, 21, swept the best-of-three championship series at the World Surf League Finals at San Clemente, California, where she has lived since moving from Florida as a teenager.
“I just was in my flow today. Just had a special day with the ocean,” Marks said on the WSL broadcast. “There’s definitely going to be a massive party after this, and everyone’s invited.”
Marks became the youngest women’s world champion since Moore won her second title in 2015.
She entered the bracketed WSL Finals seeded third and defeated No. 5 seed Caity Simmers and No. 2 Tyler Wright of Australia to face Moore.
Moore, a 31-year-old Hawaiian, had a bye into the championship series as the top-ranked surfer over the 10-event regular season, during which she won three contests.
As far as Olympic medal prospects go, Marks won the two most important events this season: the WSL Finals, plus last month’s stop in Tahiti, which will host surfing during the 2024 Paris Games.
Marks has been a precocious talent.
At 15, she became the youngest female surfer to qualify for the WSL Championship Tour.
At 16, she was Rookie of the Year.
At 17, she ranked second on tour (behind Moore) to qualify for the Tokyo Games, where she placed fourth as the youngest man or woman at the sport’s Olympic debut, according to Olympedia.org.
In February 2022, Marks withdrew before the second event of the season and took time away from tour “to deal with some recurring medical and health issues.” She missed half the season and did not qualify for the WSL Finals.
“I went through a weird one last year, and I was doubting myself,” Marks said.
Moore also entered last year’s WSL Finals seeded first with a bye into the championship round. Australian Stephanie Gilmore upset her. In years before 2021, the world champion was crowned solely off season-long points standings.
Marks, Moore and Simmers earned the three available 2024 U.S. Olympic team spots earlier this season as the top Americans on tour.
Also Saturday, Brazilian Filipe Toledo is taking on Australian Ethan Ewing for the men’s world title. U.S. Olympic qualifier and No. 2 seed Griffin Colapinto finished third.