COOLANGATTA, Queensland/AUS Caroline Marks (USA) won the Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast, the opening stop on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT). The Final Series took place at Duranbah Beach, the event’s backup site, in two-to-four foot (0.6 – 1.2 metre) waves to determine the first winner of the season.
In addition to the year’s first elite surfing event, today marked the first CT event to award equal prize money to the female and male competitors following WSL’s commitment in September last year. Each stop on the Championship Tour, in 2019 and beyond, will award equal prize money and continue to host the Rising Tides – WSL Girls Program, the beachside engagement program aimed to inspire the next generation of young girls to take to the surf.
The 2019 CT is also the first opportunity for the world’s best surfers to qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, where surfing will make its Olympic debut. The Championship Tour rankings at the end of this season will determine 18 of the 40 available places (10 men and 8 women). After today’s results, the surfers are one step closer to both qualifying for the Olympics and winning the prestigious WSL World Title.
17-year-old Marks earned her career-first event win today and vaults to No. 1 on the World Rankings. With only one year on the CT to her name, the young competitor is off to a phenomenal start in her career, already reaching the very top to set the tone for the year ahead.
“I’m really emotional right now,” Marks said. “I can’t believe it. I’m speechless. It’s incredible to be a part of this sport. I just want to thank everyone at WSL, I’m so grateful. It’s so amazing to be a part of women’s surfing. Carissa (Moore) has always been my hero and she still is. To have my first win over her is incredible. I was actually laughing because the first time I came to this event I was in the Trials and I just lost in the first heat every single time, so to now win the event is amazing. This has been the best event and best week of my life. There’s still a lot of work to do for the rest of the year, but I’m definitely going to enjoy this moment.”
En route to her first win, Marks defeated seven-time WSL Champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in the Quarterfinals, Malia Manuel (HAW) in the Semifinals, and three-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) in the Final. Marks now leads the world’s best surfers heading into Stop No. 2 of 10, the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, where she will fight to maintain her lead over the field.
“I can’t wait to see where this result will take me this year and I’m really excited to get to the next event and hopefully get on a roll,” continued Marks. “Bells Beach is one of my favorite waves in the world and I feel like it really suits my surfing, so I’m stoked to be surfing there next week.”
Teenager Caroline Marks Is Now #1 in the World
After finishing World No. 3 in 2018, three-time WSL Champion Moore came into this first event with momentum. The former two-time Gold Coast event winner was on fire all week with some of the best scores, but in the Final, Moore struggled to find a wave that would allow her to take the 22nd event win of her career. Moore now heads to the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, an event she has won three times, with her best start to the season since 2015, the same year that she won her last World Title.
“This event was a real whirlwind,” said Moore (below). “I can’t believe we started a few days ago and we’re already done. I had some great matchups throughout the week and I knew coming against Caroline (Marks) was going to be really tough as she is a really amazing surfer. I want to congratulate Caroline on such a huge win and thanks to everyone for coming and showing support. I feel really thankful to be here competing on the Gold Coast again.”