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Annnnd we’re back.
Professional surfing at its highest level has begun, and the first event of the 2019 Women's Championship Tour—the Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia—is in the books.
The main takeaway? It was an absolutely landmark moment for the youngest competitor on the tour.
17-year-old Caroline Marks took her first-ever WSL title at this Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast. After finishing the 2018 season in 7th-place overall—including earning the honor of Rookie of the Year—Marks took the next big step in her career at this year’s opening event, claiming the top spot and positioning herself as the world #1 in this early going.
Marks’ run at this Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast was particularly noteworthy because of who she met along the way. Incredibly, the teenager sparred in the quarters with seven-time world champion Stephanie Gilmore at the Australian's home break of Duranbah, coming away with the seemingly improbable victory. She then took care of business against Malia Manual in the semis before triumphing over Oahu’s three-time world champion, Carissa Moore, to nab the title.
Congrats to Caroline! No matter what the rest of 2019’s WSL tour holds for her, the Boca Raton product clearly has an insanely promising future in the sport.
Blenders sponsored athlete, 24-year-old Lakey Peterson, wasn’t able to go back-to-back after finishing first at Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast in 2018, but she put forth a spirited effort nonetheless.
After placing atop the standings in Heat 2, Lakey would eventually advance to Round 3, where she fell to 28-year-old Sage Erickson from Ojai, California. Lakey placed 9th overall with 2,610 points and an average heat score of 11.07.
Despite falling short at this WSL event, Santa Barbara’s Peterson is coming off a torrid 2018 WSL campaign and is set to make noise during this year’s tour. Last season, she placed 1st at Corona Bali Protected and Roxy Pro Gold Coast; 2nd at Corona Open J-Bay and Oi Rio Pro; and 3rd at Surf Ranch Pro, resulting in her best finish to date—2nd overall.
We’d be remiss not to talk about the action on the men’s side at Quicksilver Pro Gold Coast, also occurring from April 3—April 13.
Brazil’s Italo Ferreira is hot off a brilliant 2018 run that saw him finish fourth overall. And the 24-year-old was even more inspiring to open this season, eliminating Wade Carmichael in the quarters and Jordy Smith in the semis before meeting an eager Kolohe Andino in the finals.
The American, Andino, had appeared in four prior CT finals but was hungry for his first title. It took a dramatic come-from-behind victory by Ferreira on a final wave to claim the crown at Quicksilver Pro.
“Winning this event at the start of the year is unbelievable, ” Ferreira said. “I knew it would be so hard to beat Kolohe (Andino). I feel really lucky to have beaten him and especially in waves like this. The support on the beach is so unreal. I love all of the Brazilians on the beach. They are incredible cheering us all on. I’m excited to be in the Jeep Leader Jersey again, but it is a long year and I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself. I have a lot of other events to focus on, starting with Bells next week. I’ve trained a lot in the last three months and I got the win in the first event of the year. Let’s do this!”
We'll be following each stop of this year's Championship Tour intently and keeping you all up-to-date on the winners, the key moments, and the efforts of our own Lakey Peterson. Keep it with us for coverage of Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach (April 17 - 27)!