OCEANSIDE — After three days of competitive surfing that saw many upsets and triumphs, three-time World Surf League champion Carissa Moore claimed the 2018 Paul Mitchell Supergirl Surf Pro cape on Sunday, with a narrow victory over teenage phenom Caroline Marks.
Moore, a 25-year-old based in Honolulu, showcased her power and masterful technique all weekend — clearly validating her position as one of the top women surfers on the planet.
Despite her many victories, this was the first time Moore won first prize at Supergirl Pro, which is the largest all-female surf competition in the world. The tournament is part of the Qualifying Series, which provides girl and women surfers with the opportunity to win money and points toward placing in the next Championship Tour.
Moore walked with $10,000 and 6,000 qualifying points. “I’m so excited to have my first cape!” she said. “I had a great time competing in front of the crowd, and the energy was great.”
Although her final score of 13.84 (out of a possible 20) barely topped Marks’ 13.10, Moore held the lead during the entire final heat, which started off slowly. After they both waded in the water for 10 minutes without taking a wave, the clock was reset.
But the wait was worth it: Moore’s first wave performance was fast and snappy, thrilling the crowds and earning her a 7.67 out of a possible 10. Minutes later, both Moore and Marks caught the same wave and took it in different directions, with Moore heading toward the pier and Marks south. Marks scored 6.83 and Moore a 6.17, which meant that Marks had to earn a 6.85 on her next wave to win — a feat that she couldn’t quite pull off.
“I have an amazing family behind me, and I’m just having fun,” Marks said. “That’s been the most important thing. I was really close in that heat, but sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t, and I was really happy with the way I surfed, so I’ll carry that confidence into the rest of the season.”
At 16 years old, Marks already has a plethora of accomplishments under her belt. The San Clemente resident was the youngest girl to ever qualify for the Championship Tour, earning that honorable distinction at age 15. Marks scored an impressive 17.37 during Round Five at Supergirl Pro.
As the announcer said about Marks and Moore, “They might have nine years between them, but both have exceptionally promising careers.”
Malia Manuel, of Hawaii, came in third place, barely losing in the semi-finals to fellow Hawaiian Moore by 0.23 points. Another formidable Hawaiian, Coco Ho, came in fourth. Ho has won the Supergirl Pro cape more often than anyone else, and she knocked out the number-two ranked Lakey Peterson during the fifth round.
The inconsistent sets of two-to-three foot waves posed a challenge on Sunday for many competitors, including Tatiana Weston-Webb. Weston-Webb, after scoring the highest heat of anyone on Saturday, lost in the fifth round to Aussie Dimity Stoyle with a heat score of 0.13 to Stoyle’s 15.27. She basically didn’t surf and, therefore, didn’t earn the points needed to advance.
As an announcer said on Friday, “Sometimes the wave gods aren’t where you want them to be.”
The surf contest was part of a larger three-day Supergirl Pro festival highlighting girls and women in sports and other competitive activities where they often lack both exposure and recognition. The Supergirl theme was one of empowerment and of overcoming obstacles in the pursuit of one’s dreams.
As such, it was fitting that the first female combat fighter pilot, U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Jeannie Leavitt, presented Moore with her victor’s cape.
When asked whether she surfed, General Leavitt told The Coast News that she had never tried it, but she had “huge respect” for the female athletes she witnessed performing that day.
“I know they’re really good at what they do because they make it look so easy,” Leavitt said, noting that a true sign of excellence comes from making the difficult look effortless.
Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro QS 6,000 Final Results:
1 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 13.84 6,000 points
2 – Caroline Marks (USA) 13.10 4,500 points
Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro QS 6,000 Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 12.23 def. Malia Manuel (HAW) 12.20
SF 2: Caroline Marks (USA) 14.33 def. Coco Ho (HAW) 11.10
Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro QS 6,000 Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 11.66 def. Johanne Defay (FRA) 7.40
QF 2: Malia Manuel (HAW) 8.83 def. Brisa Hennessy (HAW) 6.00
QF 3: Coco Ho (HAW) 12.57 def. Philippa Anderson (AUS) 10.03
QF 4: Caroline Marks (USA) 13.67 def. Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 9.44
Paul Mitchell Supergirl Pro QS 6,000 Round 5 Results:
Heat 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.60 def. Courtney Conlogue (USA) 7.67
Heat 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.33 def. Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 9.67
Heat 3: Brisa Hennessy (HAW) 13.90 def. Keely Andrew (AUS) 6.94
Heat 4: Malia Manuel (HAW) 11.66 def. Mahina Maeda (JPN) 10.80
Heat 5: Coco Ho (HAW) 15.27 def. Lakey Peterson (USA) 9.03
Heat 6: Philippa Anderson (AUS) 14.17 def. Nikki Van Dijk (AUS) 13.14
Heat 7: Caroline Marks (USA) 17.37 def. Alessa Quizon (HAW) 12.03
Heat 8: Dimity Stoyle (AUS) 15.27 def. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 0.13
Updated Women’s Qualifying Series Rankings:
1. Caroline Marks (USA) 22,200
2. Coco Ho (HAW) 13,700
3. Keely Andrew (AUS) 12,850
3. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 12,850
5. Malia Manuel (HAW) 12,300
6. Silvana Lima (BRA) 11,580