At the age of 13, Caroline was the youngest woman to ever compete in a CT event. She lost in round two, but who cares when you got to surf Lowers like this? Photo: WSL/Scholtz
Caroline Marks Is The Youngest-Ever Female To Qualify For The CT
What'd you do in the year of your quinceañera?
Caroline Marks, at 15-and-three-quarters, is the youngest-ever surfer to qualify for the WSL Championship Tour… or, at least that’s what we think. Last time we made a claim similar to that (about Jeremy Flores) a helpful commenter hit us with an Occy-sized truth bomb. But until that happens again, let’s just assume Caroline is the youngest.
And can we take a moment to consider that a 15-year-old is among the top 17 female surfers on the planet? And, if we’re being brutally honest, that she’s probably among the top 10? Because as talented as the women’s CT may be, I believe there’s something special about Caroline Marks. The Melbourne Beach native has an explosive quality to her surfing that just reeks of world title potential.
Today I spoke with Ms. Marks, who was suffering from jet lag after closing her QS season in Japan and Australia. Sitting at number 7 on the rankings (with two of the women above her double-qualified through the CT), Caroline will be the second-to-last ranked surfer on the 2017 Tour. That means coming up against top seeds like Sally, Tyler, Carissa, and Courtney until she works her way up the rankings. I wanted to know how Caroline was feeling heading into her rookie season.
Stab: Hey Caroline, congrats on qualifying! How are you feeling about everything?
Caroline Marks: Thanks! I’m really stoked, but it just became official like… yesterday, so I’m still absorbing it all.
As far as we know you’re the youngest to ever qualify for the women’s Tour. Do you still feel like a grom or are you mentally prepared to compete against the world’s best?
I always compare myself to the best women, but sometimes I see what they’re doing and have to remind myself that I’m only 15 -- I still have tons of time to improve. So I definitely feel like a grom, but I also think I can be on their level. If not today, then soon.
Who are you going to be travelling with next year? I’d imagine that as a 16-year-old, you won’t be left tackle the world all by your lonesome.
[Laughs] Yeah definitely not. I’ll mostly be with my parents and my coach Mike Parsons. Hopefully my brothers can make it to a few events as well.
And what are your goals for your rookie season?
This is all so new, to be honest I haven’t even thought about it yet. I really just want to learn a lot, surf new breaks, and have fun.
Which spots are you most excited to surf?
Well Snapper is one of my favorite waves, so I’m really excited to surf it without a million people out there [laughs]. Then I went to Fiji for the first time this year, and Cloudbreak became my new favorite wave, so definitely there.
Something tells me you’ve got more competitive spark than you’re letting on... If not next year, when do you see yourself vying for a World Title?
Ah, that’s a tough one! I compare where I was at the beginning of this year to now, and I see so much improvement, which is really exciting. So I don’t think I’m at that level yet, but a title is definitely my end goal. I don’t care how long it takes, I just want to do it one day.
So, you’re from Florida. Do you know who was the last female Floridian on tour?
I think it was Lisa [Anderson], right? I’m pretty sure she came on after Frieda [Zamba]…
I believe you’re correct. And perhaps more interestingly, both of those women were multiple world champs. What do you think about that?
Yeah, I think Florida has the most world titles (of any state). And Lisa has been so nice and supportive to me over the years, which has been amazing. It’s great to have someone like that in your corner.
In transitioning from the QS to the CT, is there any part of your surfing or competitive approach that you feel needs to be changed or improved to compete against the best?
I don’t think I need to change anything in particular, but I’m always working to improve my surfing. Mike Parsons has been a huge help this year.
What about airs? I’ve seen a few shots of you above the lip… is that something you’re hoping to bring to the CT?
Absolutely! I love watching women like Carissa and Lakey do airs in events, and that’s something I’m gonna work on a lot during the off-season. I wanna do them in both directions too -- frontside and backside.
And come to think of it, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a woman complete a backside air. So... go Caroline!