GOLD COAST, Australia (AP) - Florida teenager Caroline Marks claimed her first title in the World Surf League by maintaining the form that helped her defeat world champion Stephanie Gilmore on her home break in Monday’s final over Hawaii’s Carissa Moore.
The youngest competitor on the world tour at 17, Marks beat Moore by 13.83 points to 11.67 in tricky conditions in the final to clinch the Boost Mobile Pro on the Duranbah Beach break.
Rookie of the year last year after finishing seventh in the world series, Marks became the first woman to benefit from the WSL’s new policy of equal prize money for men and women, winning $60,000.
Marks also took a major step towards qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and may be marked for further success. Almost half of the season’s first-up winners on the Gold Coast have gone on to claim the world championship.
“I just have so much adrenaline,” Marks said. “I’ve looked up to these girls my whole life and still do, they’re just my heroes.
“It’s incredible. I didn’t know it would happen this fast. I’m just so psyched.”
Marks, who beat Gilmore in Saturday’s quarterfinals, is the middle child of six siblings whose first love was horse riding before she was encouraged by a brother to take up surfing.
“Being around older people, a bunch of older brothers and their expectations of me were so high,” she said. “If I wasn’t surfing like the boys they’d give me such a hard time. I just learned I had to be super good at a young age.
“After I won, the first person I hugged was my brother because I wouldn’t surf if it wasn’t for him.”
The top 10-ranked men and eight highest-ranked women on the 2019 WSL tour will be among those qualifying for the Tokyo Games.
Brazil’s Italo Ferreira executed a brilliant 360 on a late wave to win the men’s event, denying American Kolohe Andino a maiden win in his eighth year on the circuit.
Andino had controlled the final, leading by 6.93 points until Ferreira executed a clean 360 which earned 7.07 points and gave him a narrow win.
The 24-year-old Ferreira finished with 12.57 points to Andino’s 12.43, celebrating his win with a trademark backflip from the stage after the trophy presentation.
“I tried to catch a lot of waves,” Ferreira said. “(I) knew it was my last chance, thought, ‘Let’s do it, one shot,’ then boom.”
Andino, 25, said he would turn his disappointment into motivation for the next leg of the series.
“It’s a super bummer I wasn’t getting chaired out,” he said. “But it’s a long year, great result and hopefully I can win one soon.”
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