Caroline Marks Wouldn’t Change A Thing - Stab Mag

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More of this plz. Photo: Laurent Masurel

Caroline Marks Wouldn’t Change A Thing

An interview on the eve of her competitive return.

features // Jun 9, 2022
Words by Coral McDuffee
Reading Time: 5 minutes

After a four-month hiatus, Caroline Marks will return to competition at Punta Roca, El Salvador next week. 

The last time Caroline competed was at the Billabong Pipeline Pro this January, where she lost in the Elimination Round. The Sunset Pro was next, and before the contest started, Caroline told the public via Instagram,  “I was obviously really looking forward to competing at Sunset but unfortunately, after conferring with my team, I’m going to need to take time away from the CT to deal with some recurring medical and health issues. I’m looking forward to watching the Tour from home and can’t wait to return as soon as I’m back to full strength.”

Caroline Marks stayed on medical leave during the MEO Pro Portugal, Rip Curl Pro Bells, and the contentious Margaret River Pro

After the mid-year cut, the WSL provided Caroline with a wildcard into the remaining five events. Last minute, Caroline Marks withdrew from G-Land Pro (which was then given to Sally Fitzgibbons), but committed to surfing the El Salvador Pro, which begins next week. 

The event will be held at Punta Roca, a rippable right-hand point, which is right up Caroline’s alley. According to longtime WSL commentator Ronnie Blakey, she “may be the best back-hand surfer we’ve seen on the CT.”

She sharp. Photo: Laurent Masurel

Stab had the chance to chat with the 20-year-old goofyfoot on the eve of her competitive return after a recent Mntawais sojourn. Caroline said that she wasn’t ready to discuss the details of her condition — the why behind her four-month hiatus — but she was happy to talk about her current mindset and status.

The now.

Stab: Hey Caroline, I heard you just got back from Indo. How was that? 

Caroline: Super fun — it was my first boat trip ever, so I didn’t know what to expect. Being in the middle of the ocean with a few other Red Bull athletes and no service was a lovely, focused environment. It was nice to be present, disconnect, and surf rippable 4-6 ft Macaronis and HT’s for a week or so. 

No signal. Yes please. Photo: Marcelo Margni

Sounds like an ideal vacay. So if you were already in Indo, why’d you decide to pull out of G-Land? 

I haven’t traveled in a while, so I wanted to use the trip to test out where I was at with everything. Spending eight hours plus surfing in the tropics did just that. I had FOMO watching G-land, but I don’t want to compete unless I am at 110%. I’m hopeful the run next year and I’m there for it. 

FOMO waves- or party-wise? 

[laughs] Well, I’m itching to compete but the fact that everyone had such a good time is a bonus. 

Do you feel ready to throw on the jersey in El Salvador? 

Definitely, I feel like my surfing is at 100%, and I’m stoked to be able to put the jersey back on — I feel like I have a new-found appreciation. 

Cutting into a G-Land doppelgänger. Photo: Marcelo Margni

Has your time off been constructive? 

I’ve always been someone who is surf stoked, and I love competing. Having said that, I started on tour pretty young — time flew by, one event after another, and I never had time to reset.  If you do anything, year after year, it starts to feel normal. I was run down. 

After taking a step back, I feel rejuvenated again.

That’s awesome. Did the break give you a chance to reflect on qualifying at such a young age? 

Yes, for sure. I understand the perspective now when people say that 15 is too young to go on tour. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. I think being young helped me mature a lot, plus I was able to surf with my heroes in the best waves world.

What advice would you offer young surfers trying to make careers from competitive surfing? 

Listen to yourself. Do what makes you happy. Surround yourself with people you want to share the journey with. I’m starting to realize those moments are what make life special. 

And concentrate on fun — ignore the pressure. For me, most of it is self-imposed. Obviously, I want to do my best, but focusing on fun is what prevents burn out. 

The whole squad. Photo WSL

How important is it to have a good support network on tour?

Mike Parsons and Luke Egan have been great to have in my corner from the competitive side of things. But family for sure, I have tons of brothers and we’re all super close and supportive. I’ll be heading to El Salvador with mom and my brother Luke.

Have you been to El Salvador before? 

Yeah, I’ve been to an ISA event but I’ve never surfed Punta Roca. I’ve seen videos, it looks like a fun right-hand point break, I’ll get there a few days early to practice. 

Where is your level of excitement at? 

An easy 10 — my nerves are right around there too — but those are good to have, it means you care. Most importantly my surfing feels good. I’m confident. 

Have you kept up on the CT changes? Any thoughts on the mid-year cut?

It’s been an interesting year to be a spectator. Like most people, I have mixed emotions. It’s sad to see great surfers go, but every heat is so intense now and that makes it more exciting. 

We want to see more Caroline. Any projects to look out for? 

I’m actually thinking about starting a blog series. I’m looking forward to showing more personality and behind the scenes. I’m used to putting out purely surf edit, so it’ll be a fun little experiment. I started recording in the Mentawais, hopefully it’ll be active on my Youtube channel soon. As for competitive goals, I just want to surf really really well and push myself everyday but with less pressure.

Thanks Caroline.

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