Caroline Marks Wins Surf Event in El Salvador, Now Ranked 3rd On The World Tour
Article by Hillard Grossman
It didn’t take long Friday for surfer Caroline Marks to wax poetic about “the best of times and the worst of times.”
The former Melbourne Beach resident, now living in Orange County, Calif., posted her first Championship Tour victory since 2021 on the World Surf League, enjoying a fun morning at the Surf City El Salvador Pro at Punta Roca.
Marks, 21, earned the victory (her fourth major title) at the same site where she made her comeback after taking a few contests off due to reported medical reasons.
She now is ranked third behind Hawaii’s Carissa Moore and Australia’s Tyler Wright, both of whom she defeated Friday.
“This time last year was my first event back after one of the hardest times of my life, so I’m emotional,” said an elated Marks, in an interview floating in the ocean. “I’ve been super inspired by the younger girls and all the new energy on tour. It’s been really cool. I haven’t won a CT since 2021, so I’m just super-stoked. This is the best feeling ever.”
Marks is now in prime position to qualify for the WSL Final 5 and also on the verge of locking up her second Olympic qualifying berth for Team USA, which will contend in Tahiti in 2024.
Using her backhand to her advantage on small waves, perhaps similar to those surfers would find on a decent day at Sebastian Inlet, Marks took charge early in the final against Wright, scoring a 4.83 and later a 6.33 ride to wrap up an 11.60-8.47 victory. Wright, a two-time world champion, sustained an arm injury in the closing two minutes.
In the semifinal against Moore, the five-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist in Japan, Marks unleashed a spectacular six-pack of high-level tail whips for a 7.50 score on her way to a 14.00-11.17 triumph.
“What makes our journey so special is sharing it with people you love,” Marks said. “My brothers haven’t been to an event in a couple of years, so maybe I should bring them everywhere now.
“We got the Olympics and the Final 5 (coming up) and I want to be in both of those. I’m feeling good and I’m really motivated. I feel like I put the work in, so I’m like, ‘Let’s do this!'”
On the men’s side, Brazil’s Filipe Toledo defeated No. 1 Griffin Colapinto of California 17.33-12.10 in the final and now heads to the next stop on his home waves in Rio ranked second.
Cocoa Beach’s Kelly Slater, surfing as a wildcard for the second half of the season, is ranked 23rd.