World Champion surfers crowned at WSL Finals 

Thousands of fans converged onto the Southern California sand for the pinnacle 1-day tournament, concluding the 2023 surf season.

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. — The top five men and women surfers arrived at Lower Trestles before sunrise, preparing for battle. Each athlete had their unique and personal journey reaching this point. All with the same goal in mind, becoming a World Champion. 

Beginning the season at Pipeline (Hawaii) in January, the championship tour spans the entire globe. Events were held in Portugal, Australia, El Salvador, Brazil, South Africa, and Tahiti. The five highest scoring men and women surfers were invited to Orange County for a bracket-style tournament. 

World Surf League/Thiago Diz

The World Surf League (WSL) was established in 1976, as the global home of surfing. Their mission “is dedicated to changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing…and storytelling to inspire a growing, global community to live with purpose, originality, and stoke,” according to its site. 

Hurricane Jova played a significant role in the finals. The Pacific ocean swells picked up in the early morning hours and into the afternoon, with waves ranging 4-to-6 feet high.

Caroline Marks wins first World Championship

The 21-year-old American surfer, originally from Melbourne Beach, FL now calls San Clemente home. She took full advantage of her local wave with dominant heat wins in route to her first world title.

Sweeping the best-of-three championship series, Marks defeated Carissa Moore, an Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champ. Additionally, she qualified for next year’s Olympics as part of Team USA.

“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,” Marks told the WSL broadcast.

Marks spoke earlier in the week with The Sporting Tribune on reaching the WSL Finals and why Lower Trestles, in particular, stands out.

“It’s really special, at the end of the year this is where everyone wants to be. To have a chance to win a world title,” said the No. 3 seed Marks. “Trestles is like a liquid skate park, a fun rippable wave with a beautiful left and right. I live here now and feel very comfortable. It’s one of my favorite waves in the world to surf.”  

Marks notably rides ‘goofy’ footed (right foot forward), compared to the field who ride ‘regular’ (left foot forward), providing a distinct look and style unto herself.

World Surf League/Thiago Diz

Filipe Toledo defends crown, wins consecutive World Championships

Originally from São Paulo, Brazil, Toledo, 28, brought his ariel prowess and adoring fans to the cobblestones of Trestles. He battled Australia’s Ethan Ewing in a highly competitive finale.

In two heats, Toledo became the first back-to-back title winner since John John Florence in 2016-2017, and the first Brazilian ever to do so. Toledo is set to compete in the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.

World Surf League/Pat Nolan

Another champion residing in San Clemente, Toledo impressed the judges launching himself into the air, a trademark move. The Brazilian faithful waved their flags, cheering him on from the rocky shore. 

“It’s so hard to put into words what it took for me to be here right now,” said Toledo. “So much sacrifice.”

World Surf League 2024 Schedule 

Looking ahead to a new season, the WSL plan to release their highly anticipated schedule on Sept. 20. Athletes and fans alike are eager to learn which waves make the calendar next year.