In 2023, Caroline Marks’ (USA) victory here catapulted her World Title dream back into reality before being crowned the 2023 WSL Champion. A successful run throughout the week in El Salvador returned Marks, 22, to the top of the podium for back-to-back wins at Punta Roca. Marks now sits just behind fellow American Caitlin Simmers on the rankings. Marks has two more events to hold her Top 5 position for the opportunity to defend her World Title. 

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“That feels good, and El Salvador is always so good to me," said Marks. "It kickstarted my campaign to win the World Title last year. I love Punta Roca. It was also really cool to have a Final with Gabby [Bryan]. She’s a really good friend of mine on Tour, and winning feels good. I’m really happy. That’s why I’m here. I want to win as many World Titles as I can, and I’m super aware of how hard it is to get one, but I just need to focus on myself and my performance. I would love to go back-to-back to be the World Champion, but for now, I’m just going to enjoy this.”

Caroline Marks. Aaron Hughes/WSL

The Final heated up right away with Marks unleashing her signature backhand power to accrue a 7.00 (out of a possible 10) over 2022 Rookie of the Year Gabriela Bryan (HAW). A quick backup put Marks firmly in the lead, with Bryan’s minimal score line requiring a near-perfect 9.70 to overtake the defending event victor, Marks. Reigning WSL Champion Marks then utilized her priority to secure the best score heat with a 7.40 at the 14-minute mark, and put Bryan into a combination situation, meaning she needed two new scores to match Marks. 

But, Bryan showed her resilience and got out of the combination situation before nearly taking the lead from Marks in the final moments, falling just 0.34 short of her requirement. 

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“The waves were amazing since the first day I got here,” said Marks. “Thank you, Surf City, for being so welcoming and all the fans and Punta Roca for providing all the waves. It was a dream week for me. It feels good to be back in winning form, and it sets me up really nicely for the rest of the year. I want to be back in the Finals.”

Gabriela Bryan Aaron Hughes/WSL

Gabriela Bryan Pushes Progression To Earn Second-Place Result

22-year-old Gabriela Bryan (HAW) put on a dominant showing throughout her run to the Final. The Kauai, Hawaii, competitor, Bryan, overpowered World Title contender Molly Picklum (AUS) in their Quarterfinal before Bryan returned to the water today and took down current World No. 1 Caitlin Simmers (USA). Though Bryan’s last attempt to take the podium fell under half a point short, she moves to Rio with renewed vigor. Bryan is knocking on the door of the WSL Final 5, now sitting at World No. 6. 

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“It feels super good, especially to back it up after Margaret River,” said Bryan. “I had a great week surfing insane waves with the girls and thank you to everyone for welcoming us. Congratulations to Caroline on an awesome Final. She’s been ripping, and it was super special to share that with her.”

Podium. Aaron Hughes/WSL