Caroline Marks (USA) and Filipe Toledo (BRA) won the 2023 World Surf League (WSL) World Titles at the third-annual Rip Curl WSL Finals in solid four-to-six foot (1.2 – 1.8 meter) conditions. Five-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) and back-to-back World Title contender Ethan Ewing (AUS) claimed runner-up finishes after battling their way past several elite competitors.
Marks Overtakes Moore in World-Class Title Match for Maiden World Title
Marks, 21, entered her first Rip Curl WSL Finals as the No. 3 seed and left as the 2023 Surfing World Champion. She is the first person to win a World Tile for mainland USA since Lisa Andersen (USA) in 1997. This also marks the first women’s goofy-footed surfer to claim a World Title since Chelsea Georgenson (AUS) in 2005. The Floridian (now California resident) felt at home at Lower Trestles. She left a resounding impression with multiple excellent scores and near-perfection throughout the day en route to her maiden World Title. Marks had a terrific 2023 CT season, winning events in El Salvador and Tahiti. Today’s brilliant performance also confirmed her provisional qualification for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
“It’s just so inspiring to have my name up on that list,” said Marks. “This has just been a goal of mine. World Champion, it’s crazy. I went through a weird one last year, and I was doubting myself. This just feels so good. I really don’t know what to say, I’ve been really emotional this year. This feels like a lot of emotion.”
Marks’ backhand attack was undeniable from her Match 2 debut all the way to the Title Match against Carissa Moore (HAW). Marks dominated Title Match 1, earning an excellent 8.67 (out of a possible 10) and pushing Moore into a combination situation. Moore was able to break the combination, but Marks answered right back with another excellent 8.43 to extend her lead until the end of the heat.
After a slow start to Title Match 2, Marks unleashed multiple critical maneuvers again to earn a 7.00. She then backed it up with an impressive 7.60 that all but sealed her maiden World Title. Moore was left chasing a score as time expired.
“Big ups to Carissa (Moore),” said Marks. “She’s been a massive inspiration to me growing up my whole life. She’s had a stellar year, and it was kinda a dream of mine to be in the Final with her. I just had a great board, and I have a lot of good family and friends here. I really feel the support, and that goes a long way, so I was just in my flow today. Just had a special day with the ocean, so wow, it feels so good.”
Toledo Goes Back-To-Back in Dominant Form, Makes History For Brazil
Toledo, 28, earned his second-consecutive World Title today, once again proving himself as the competitor to beat. He is now the first competitor to earn back-to-back World Titles since John John Florence (HAW) in 2016 and 2017. Toledo entered the Rip Curl WSL Finals as the No. 1 seed. The Ubatuba, Brazil competitor was unstoppable in the 2023 CT season, accruing wins at Sunset Beach, El Salvador, and J-Bay.
“It’s so hard to put into words what it took for me to be here right now,” said Toledo. “So much sacrifice. A lot of sacrifice, to be honest. Seven years ago, I had my first kid. I wasn’t at home too much to be there with my wife. Neither was I there for Koa as well. I knew in the long run, this was going to pay off. This is a dream come true. I don’t think there’s ever been a Brazilian that won back-to-back. We like to make history. I’m super thankful to God. He blessed me all the way here. It was not easy.”
Toledo and Rip Curl WSL Finals standout Ethan Ewing (AUS) surfed arguably one of the best heats of the 2023 season during the men’s Title Match 1. A critical first exchange put Toledo into a slight lead, earning a 7.33 to Ewing’s 7.00. Fireworks followed from both competitors. Toledo’s combination of a major outside maneuver to a soaring finish garnered a near-perfect 9.00. Ewing’s signature power surfing garnered an 8.50. In the last exchange, Toledo again defeated the Australian with an 8.97 to Ewing’s 8.73.
In their second Title Match, Toledo kept busy and accrued a 12.57 heat total (out of a possible 20) before Ewing had a chance to strike back. Ewing’s 7.67 kept his hopes alive heading into the final minutes, but fell on his last opportunity. The crowd erupted as time ran out and Toledo secured his second World Title.
“With God’s strength and faith, I was able to pull it off and make it on the long run all the way here and ended up winning back-to-back,” said Toledo. “I couldn’t do it without my team. It’s a huge 77 team. I love all you guys. My family, my wife, my kids, my mom, dad, brothers, sister, I love you so much, thank you so much.”
Moore’s dominant run through the 2023 season culminated in clinching the No. 1 seed going into the Rip Curl WSL Finals for the third-straight year. But, Moore’s redemption run toward a World Title was cut short by an in-form Marks. The five-time World Champion started her season with a massive win at the Billabong Pro Pipeline. She then earned back-to-back wins at Margaret River and the WSL Surf Ranch.
Ewing’s runner-up finish marks his career-best result. The 25-year-old achieved one of his dreams of winning the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach earlier this year, an event his mother, Helen Lambert, won 40 years prior. He then went on to make the Finals at Rio and Jeffreys Bay. The North Stradbroke, Australia competitor had to overcome adversity with a frightening back injury that nearly sidelined him for the 2023 Rip Curl WSL Finals. But, Ewing wasn’t to be stopped and put on a world-class display from start to finish with numerous excellent scores before Toledo stole the show in their World Title showdown.
Molly Picklum (AUS) and Caitlin Simmers (USA) opened the Rip Curl WSL Finals with the first Match of the day. Simmers took the win and looked like she could make the run, but then fell to Marks in Match 2. Two-time World Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) finished the year as No. 3 after being eliminated by Marks in Match 3.
Joao Chianca (BRA) and Jack Robinson (AUS) kicked off the men’s Match 1 with Chianca taking the win. But in Match 2, Chianca was no match for Ewing who put him in a combination situation. San Clemente’s own Griffin Colapinto (USA) put on a show for his home crowd in Match 3, but Ewing took the win and secured his spot in the Title Match.
For highlights from the 2023 Rip Curl WSL Finals, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.
2023 Rip Curl WSL Finals Women’s Results:
Women’s Title Match, Heat 2: Caroline Marks (USA) 14.60 DEF. Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.53
Women’s Title Match, Heat 1: Caroline Marks (USA) 17.10 DEF. Carissa Moore (HAW) 14.97
Women’s Match 3: Caroline Marks (USA) 17.40 DEF. Tyler Wright (AUS) 13.70
Women’s Match 2: Caroline Marks (USA) 11.67 DEF. Caitlin Simmers (USA) 10.36
Women’s Match 1: Caitlin Simmers (USA) 15.17 DEF. Molly Picklum (AUS) 12.17
2023 Rip Curl WSL Finals Men’s Results:
Men’s Title Match, Heat 2: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 14.27 DEF. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 12.37
Men’s Title Match, Heat 1: Filipe Toledo (BRA) 17.97 DEF. Ethan Ewing (AUS) 17.23
Men’s Match 3: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 17.10 DEF. Griffin Colapinto (USA) 15.96
Men’s Match 2: Ethan Ewing (AUS) 17.60 DEF. Joao Chianca (BRA) 14.57
Men’s Match 1: Joao Chianca (BRA) 15.33 DEF. Jack Robinson (AUS) 11.87
The Rip Curl WSL Finals is proudly supported by Rip Curl, SHISEIDO, YETI, Red Bull, Surfline, True Surf, Pura Vida, 805 Beer, Pacifico, Sambazon, Original Sprout, Turtle Bay, Boxed Water, Tudor, Candy Crush Soda, and Cup Noodles.
For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.