In 2017 the World Surf League (WSL) witnessed history as Caroline Marks qualified for the Championship Tour (CT) at just 15. Now, at age 16, Marks has two major Qualifying Series (QS) wins under her belt in 2018 and leads the QS rankings with a dominant 16,200 points after taking a Los Cabos Open of Surf victory Sunday.
Zippers continued to deliver clean, three-to-four foot conditions for finals day and the CT competitors in attendance dominated. But it was the 16-year-old who took down an all- goofyfooter Final against one of this year's most consistent competitors, Tatiana Weston-Webb.
"I'm beyond excited to win this one, it's always been one of my favorite events that I've come to for the last few years," Marks said. "We probably had the best waves ever this year, it was nuts and everyone was ripping this whole time. It's amazing to have my mom and brother here, it's Father's Day, I'm just so stoked. It's an incredible feeling and winning is really hard at these events so when you do, you have to enjoy it."
The Melbourne Beach, Florida, native -- and now a San Clemente, California, resident -- showcased a dominant backhand in the Final, earning a near-perfect 9.43 (out of a possible 10) and 17.06 (out of a possible 20) to take the lead from Weston-Webb at the 10-minute mark. Weston-Webb stayed busy, trying to find waves worthy of the 8.74 needed, but Marks held firm with priority and showed patience beyond her years until the final horn sounded.
"It feels really good to be in the position I'm in on the rankings," Marks said. "This is the best year of my life and I'm just really enjoying it. Every stop I've been to this year has had amazing waves and I'm so fortunate to be on Tour with all those girls who surf so well, and work so hard. It really pushes me to my best. This year I've just wanted focus on bettering my surfing, not worrying about results, and I've ended up with the best results in my life. My goal is to win the QS this year and I'm grateful to get off to this kind of start."
Weston-Webb Notches a Third Runner-Up Finish in 2018
The Final was a battle between Marks and Weston-Webb, two of the event's best performers with ten excellent scores -- meaning scores were above an 8.00 -- between them. The Brasilian's backhand is one of the best in the world, as she sits at No. 3 on the CT and the QS, but hasn't broken through with a win just yet in 2018. She remains confident heading into the mid-year mark and sits comfortably within a requalification spot on both fronts.
"It was a really fun Final and I felt like I was going to win, but I'm appreciative of the second-places that keep coming," Weston-Webb said. "I'm thankful to keep making Finals and just hoping I win one soon. I was really just having a great time and that's what it took for me to get to that Final in this event. It feels amazing and I'm trying to get those little steps to go higher and higher. That's what it takes and obviously now it's going to take some wins to make my way up to the top -- that's my goal now is to improve on that Final result."
Job Done for Keely Andrew
A Semifinal finish for CT competitor Keely Andrew gives her another keeper result in 2018 heading forward, solidifying her path to requalification for the elite-level Tour. The Sunshine Coast, Australia, native ripped her way past Round 6 before facing 2015 event winner -- and fellow CT surfer -- Nikki Van Dijk. Andrew, needing a 9.06, dropped a 9.07 in the last three minutes with her fast, technical forehand attack. But, a slow start in the Semifinal proved too much to gain ground on an in-form Weston-Webb.
"I've grown to expect more of myself and I would've loved to win it for an even better result, but I'm really happy with how I surfed," Andrew said. "Coming out of Keramas, it was good to get right back into the rights and I used the same board so it's good to know it works different conditions. I'm stoked with the waves I got here and the next QS is Oceanside so hopefully I can draw the line there to really focus on the Tour."
Silvana Lima Continues Remarkable Los Cabos Streak
Defending event winner Silvana Lima looked poised for yet another Finals appearance, but fell to the eventual winner Marks in a one-sided, Semifinal affair. The Brasilian still retains the best track record of any competitor at this event, never missing the Quarterfinals or better, but continuously made mistakes that ended up being her demise. Now, Lima prepares for a big back half of 2018, beginning with Jeffreys Bay early next month.
"This is a good result with over 3,000 point and it feels good to get this far, but Caroline [Marks] was ripping the whole event," Lima said. "She deserved to win that heat and I made some big mistakes. I fell so much on my waves, and now I have work on that. This wave is still my favorite and the vibe here is amazing. All the locals are always so supportive and cheer for me, it's incredible. I can't wait for J-Bay after getting waves like today, it was so good here this event."
The Los Cabos Open of Surf QS 6,000 was supported by the Los Cabos Tourism Board, the Alana Blanchard Foundation, Boardwalk Producciones, Soleado Beach and Spa Resort, Association de Surfing de Baja California Sur, Woodward Surf, and Pacifico as the major sponsors.