The New Normal: Too Much TikTok, Olympic Woes, And Mind-Expanding Funboards With Caroline Marks
“Whatever. I’m a Generation Z. It’s all good. Right?”
Caroline Marks may very well be the most likable surfer on tour, a buoyant, good-mannered, confidently gregarious young woman with remarkable natural talent, a Southern US work ethic, and a large, thoroughly supportive family behind her.
Caroline just turned eighteen on February 14th—”I’m a love child,” Caroline jokes—and spent it in Tahiti, her first trip to the French Polynesian island that will host either her second or first Olympic debut.
After keeping pace with the World Title race all the way to Honolua Bay last year, Caroline finished second in the world. We’d bet the farm she will win a World Title in the next two years, and possibly an Olympic Gold Medal or two in the next five.
After dropping her Tahiti edit yesterday, we wanted to hear from the relentlessly jovial Floridian prodigy on how she’s feeling after what many were claiming would be her breakout barnburner of a World Title campaign.
Caroline told us she’d call at 1:30 and lo’ and behold there she was, almost atomically on time.
Stab: You’re the first pro surfer that’s ever called on time
The Marks run a tight ship.
Yeah we do! I was just surfing T-street. It was actually really fun.
Are they giving you guys a hard time about surfing down there?
Not really. They just have an announcement every 30 minutes saying: six feet away! I think they just have it like on like replay. Thankfully it’s been raining the last couple of days, so there hasn’t been that many people on the beach, which I think is a really good thing.
Whenever you guys did that interview with Kolohe, it was so crowded. Unbelievable. It was crazy.
I feel like being in the water’s pretty safe.
Caroline in Tahiti, February 2020.
So who are you isolated with and do you want to put a pillow over his or her face yet?
My family. We’ve actually been doing pretty good. I have a huge family, so you think it would be crazy, but I feel bad for people that are alone. I feel like that’d be so much harder. I’m like super stoked on my family. Yeah, we want to kill each other most of the time, but I’d rather have that than nobody with me. I’d probably lose my mind.
I can’t imagine being stuck in New York or something. I literally would lose my mind. We can go outside here, where we live on the hill we’re kind of away from people, which is really nice. I think we’ve all been doing pretty good actually.
What have you guys been binge-watching?
You’re going to laugh, but I’ve actually been playing a lot of Xbox. I’ve been playing Skate 3.
I’ve been doing a little TikTok. But I’m trying to stay away from it. I’m trying not to be on my phone as much.
Pull up your screen time and tell me if it’s up on average this week.
Oh, shoot. This is so embarrassing.
It says it’s up 23% from last week. That is really embarrassing. Six hours and 16 minutes a day. That’s so bad.
I think that’s the highest screen time yet. How much of that is… what’s it called? TikTok?
It says four hours and 22 minutes on TikTok. Oh. My. God. So embarrassing.
You know what, hey, no shame man. Whatever. I’m a Generation Z. It’s all good. Right?
I don’t even know what you just said.
I spend the most time on that app these days. It’s just really addicting. I watch a lot. I make a few, but I watch it more because people do stupid stuff. It’s hilarious. So funny. So I’m pretty locked in.
Usually when I’m traveling I’m not using my phone, I don’t have any wifi, whatever. Right now, I’ll surf, then I’m on my phone, then I’ll go surf again type of thing. Twice a day, as much as possible.
As long as your surf time is equal to your screen time?
Yeah, 100% I would, yeah. I can never let that get worse. I’m so embarrassed.
Kolohe would give you a hard time for being such a Millennial or Gen-Z or whatever, but he’s for sure just watching Love Island nonstop.
Oh my God. That’s hilarious. I feel like a lot of couples are into that, but I mean, well… I’m not going to watch Love Island.
You guys get into Tiger King yet?
Everybody has been telling me to watch it too. Are you into it?
It’ll be so familiar to you growing up in Florida.
Classic. I’ll get into it. It’s better than TikToking.
Tahiti, February 2020.
All right, so since you’re going to get like eight opportunities to surf in the Olympics, do you hope that it gets rescheduled for 2021 and happens in Chiba or the Japanese wave pool, or do you hope that it gets canceled entirely and it happens at Chopes in 2024.
I really want to surf in the Olympics, no matter where it is. I definitely want to surf next year, I want to go to Japan for sure.
It’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a little kid, you know? I definitely want to be there next year, and then hopefully again in 2024.
When we went to the ISA event in Japan, the waves were super good, and I had so much fun at that event because there was no pressure, you’re doing it for your team and you’re just so psyched. The crowds were epic, like the whole beach was on the team. It gets you extra motivated.
Knowing Cocoa Beach, how many streets and parks will get named after you, statues erected, etc. if you win a gold medal?
Oh my gosh. [Laughs]
That’s super cool to think about, just the power that the Olympics have. It’s so much bigger. It’s the highest level you can reach in sports. It’s huge. It’s the Olympics!
Ok so everyone’s been bringing it up, and as both a Floridian goofyfoot and a World Title contender you seem uniquely qualified to comment: if the world tour does get back up and running before the end of the year, which we all obviously hope happens, will there be an asterisk next to whoever wins the World Title the way people like to comment about CJ’s, and would you want your first of what will surely be many World Title’s to be during a shortened year?
Of course, ideally this whole thing didn’t even happen. You know, no question.
But at the same time, that World Title is a World Title. I definitely wouldn’t be complaining if I won it over half the year. You still show up against everybody.
CJ’s a real champion. He still was the best surfer for half the year. You can’t argue with that. He’s the World Champ.
Guaranteed Caroline will be spending more quality time in Tahiti over the next four years, striking fear into her Olympic rivals.
What’s gonna keep you sane through the rest of this nightmare?
I’ve been able to get really caught up on school. I’m almost done with high school [laughs], which I’m pretty stoked on. I had to make a pillow the other day for one of my projects. School’s actually really good and I think it’s super important. Teaches you like discipline. I definitely back it.
Other than that, just like walking my dog. I have a golden retriever.
Of course you do.
They’re the best dogs ever.
What’s your golden retriever’s name?
Knox. Like Taylor Knox.
What boards have you been riding?
Matt [Biolos] gave two fun boards to play around with, and one I really like. It’s called the Rocket Redux. I actually rode that this morning. It’s a fun board that you can totally rip on. The other one’s the MR California twin fin. A little 5’0 fish. I’m so used to riding like short boards that it’s really nice to get to play around on some fun boards. You learn things about your surfing on those boards.
Where’s the first place you want to go surf? Uh, if the tour is still on hold for a little bit and you can travel?
Probably Fiji. Cloudbreak or Hawaii. Just anywhere with warm water and a variety of waves, even like Nicaragua would be cool. I just want to go somewhere so bad, honestly.
“Usually when I’m traveling I’m not using my phone, I don’t have any wifi, whatever. Right now, I’ll surf, then I’m on my phone, then I’ll go surf again” Caroline out of range in Tahiti, February 2020.
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