Some of the world's best women have staked their claim at the Vans US Open of Surfing Women's Junior event, but never has a surfer claimed two titles back-to-back -- until today. Defending champion Caroline Marks (USA) secured her title in terrific fashion despite less than stellar conditions.The 14-year-old Floridan raised surfer took full advantage of what she could find in the lineup and after getting off to a slow start, Marks made up for it with a massive finish and posted a solid 6.50 (out of a possible 10) and an excellent 7.50 on her final two rides.
"I'm speechless right now, I thought about what it'd be like to win this thing twice and it's just an amazing feeling," Marks said. "These girls are so good and that chair-up the beach was the best ride of this event. I can't thank my parents and family enough for all their support. All my friends, and people shouting from the beach and the pier was so surreal. This is only the second event I've done this year so I'm hoping to get another big result at the next one and try to make it into the World Junior Championships."
Marks made a big jump up the North America Junior Tour rankings with 1,000 points to the No. 5 spot and is within striking distance of a Top 2 finish for her chance at a flight to New South Wales for the World Junior Championships.
Keeping a lock on the No. 1 spot in the rankings with a runner-up finish, Alyssa Spencer (USA) is well on her to way to the World Junior Championships. The 13-year-old, Carlsbad, Calif. native will head into Soup Bowl Pro Junior on the island of Barbados with 2,030 points and Leilani McGonagle (CRI) the closest to her with 1,470. But, the young talent is keeping a level a head knowing anything can and will get right back to work after this achievement.
"My goal coming in here was to make it to the final so to get runner-up just makes it that much more special," Spencer said. "All the people on the beach just make it so exciting and to be surfing just down the road from my hometown is so nice. It's cool to see these girls surf so well, it just helps push my surfing so far. I'll just be trying to up my game and get ready for that last event to try and solidify my spot at the top of the rankings. Worlds is definitely one of my goals this year but I'm taking it as it all comes and not rushing, there's still a lot to get done."
Brisa Hennessy (HAW) was in winning form coming back to Huntington Beach after claiming two amateur titles in the past month -- one at the NSSA Nationals in Huntington and the other at Lower Trestles for the Volcom TCT. Though she competing out of region and will not count these points, gaining as much experience against her fellow competitors as she can is something the young Hawaiian will take with her in coming years.
"This is my best finish at this event so I'm really happy to make it this far and give it a try in the Finals," Hennessy said. "I wasn't too pleased with my performance but it was good to be out there with those girls. It's exciting to see this generation of surfers coming up in our sport and I'm looking forward to what the future holds for us. I'll gear up for the ISA event in Portugal, but I get to go home first which is something I really think is important so that I can reflect on this event and learn from it moving forward."
Bethany Zelasko (USA) is in her first year competing on the Junior Tour and earned her first-ever Finals appearance here at the Huntington Beach Pier. Though new to the WSL competitive scene, Zelasko has her ambition set high and will work hard to make them a reality with her work ethic both in and out of the water.
"I'm so stoked to make it to a final and I'm really going to try and make it into the next now to keep this momentum alive," Zelasko said. "These are pretty vital points and now I just want to do even better, and maybe even try to make the World Championships. I need to prepare for Barbados on a couple of rights so I'll be working on that while also getting ready for school to start back up. It's a really exciting time and I'm just soaking it all."