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Felipe Toledo and Caroline Marks Crowned World Champions After Incredible Day of Surfing at Lower Trestles

The World Surf League came to Lower Trestles today, and it was everything you could want from a world title showdown.

From firing, rippable, overhead peaks to mind-melting performances, today’s contest was high-fi surfing at its best—and when the spray settled, the best in the world were crowned world champions.

Caroline Marks Wins Her First World Title

Felipe Toledo and Caroline Marks Crowned World Champions After Incredible Day of Surfing at Lower Trestles

Photo Credit to WSL

For most of the day, it looked like pink was the winning color. The third seeded surfers on the men’s and women’s fields wore pink jerseys, and from heat two until the final heat of the day, it was all pink all the time. Caroline Marks was the only goofyfoot in the draw, and she put her backhand to good use on the roping rights.

First she dispatched rookie of the year Caitlyn Simmers in a lopsided contest, then she dismantled two-time world champion Tyler Wright. By the time Marks had steamrolled her way into the final, she had qualified for the 2024 Olympics and developed a huge head of steam, seemingly improving with each performance.

Marks faced off against five-time world champ Carissa Moore in the best-of-three world title showdown.

Whereas Marks came into the final with tons of momentum, Moore was still carrying baggage from last year, when she was also the number one seed but ended up falling to a rampaging Steph Gilmore, who surfed her way from the bottom seed to clinch her record-breaking eighth world title.

Carissa Moore has been the top seed at the championship event every year since this new format was unveiled, which has to sting a bit. Up until three years ago, that would have meant that she won the world title every year. But under the new format, it doesn’t matter if you are the top-ranked surfer at the end of the season—you still have to win at Trestles on championship day, and Moore has struggled to do that.

She had the title stolen from her again this year, losing two straight to an in-from Marks, whose lethal backhand took the day and earned her the hardware. Marks was the first goofyfoot to win the women’s world title since 2005, and the first Floridian woman to win since Lisa Anderson in 1997. And at only 21 years of age, one gets the feeling she’s just getting started.

Felipe Toledo Defends His World Title

Filipe Toledo 2023 World Champion Surfing

Photo Credit to WSL

While Marks was marching to victory, Ethan Ewing was also hammering his way through the draw, wearing that lucky pink jersey.

He comboed Joao Chianca in heat two (after Chianca beat Jack Robinson earlier in the morning), then took down hometown hero Griffin Colapinto in the penultimate heat. Griff had a huge cheering squad—heck, he was even called to stage by the mayor of San Clemente!—and put together an amazing performance, but Ethan Ewing’s surfing was so fast, precise, and radical that even the local phenom couldn’t stop him.

Ewing is the new generation of power surfer—an aesthetically pleasing combination of Mick Fanning’s speed and Taylor Knox’s impeccable technique and commitment to the rail—and is arguably the most enjoyable person on tour to watch surf. The fact that he was laying down turn after searing turn with a broken back—he fractured two vertebrae at Teahupoo only four weeks ago!—only made his run to the finals even more impressive.

Unfortunately for Ewing (and fans of the color pink), the best small-wave surfer in the world had spent all day resting and waiting for his chance to surf. Felipe Toledo ended the year more than 8000 points ahead of the second-highest surfer.

For the second year in a row, he was the top seed coming into the championship event, and just like last year, he took control the moment he pulled on the yellow jersey and paddled out.

Heat one was some of the best competitive surfing we’ve seen in years—Ewing’s next-generation power carves pitted against Toledo’s ultra-fast, creative combos—and actually ended with the two surfers separated by only tenths of a point. Toledo came into heat two with the advantage, and when the ocean went quiet, he sat patiently for 20 minutes before catching his first wave.

From there, it was a back-and-forth battle, with Ewing logging the highest single-wave score but Toledo grinding out the heat win and claiming his second consecutive world title.

 The Future of Competitive Surfing

The one-day world championship format is still controversial—just ask Carissa Moore, who must be scratching her head at the fact that she’s won the tour the past three years running, but lost the world title in both 2022 and 2023—but the level that was displayed today definitely lends some credibility to this new style of competition. Whether they like it or not, the athletes now have a few months to rest and recover before starting all over again at Pipe in January. As always, we will be waiting on the beach, ready to cheer them on.