How surfer prodigy Caroline Marks stays true to her Florida roots
They came with Sharpies. On a recent fall day at Jacksonville Beach, crowds of little girls looking for autographs and selfies swarmed a 5ft 5in Caroline Marks as she stepped out of the ocean, surfboard in hand, smiling from ear to ear. Marks had just been flying through the air emptying her bag of Supergirl Surf Pro series tricks, landing an aerial maneuver once associated only with male surfing and which has helped the 19-year-old win some of the best titles in the sport, propelling its rock star status for surfers of all ages around the world.
Originally from Melbourne, Florida, now living in California, she first rocked professional surfing at the age of 15, when she became the youngest athlete (male or female) to qualify for the championship. elite sport. Then, this summer, Marks earned her household name status when she added the Olympic athlete to her already long list of accomplishments. Marks, a champion for women’s equality in surfing, also became the first woman to receive an equal payment ($ 100,000) to her male counterpart at a World Surf League event in 2019. When she doesn’t break down age and gender barriers, competing for a world title or vying for an olympic medal, Marks always finds solace in the simple fact of being in the water.
“My mom always tells me, ‘If you’re having a bad day, just go in the water. You’re instantly happy,” Marks said. Flamingo Editor-in-Chief Jamie Rich on her recent visit to Jacksonville, where she finished second in the East Coast edition of Supergirl Surf Pro, billed as the only action sports, esports and style series. all-female large-scale living in the world. Think: world-class surfing, skateboarding, soccer, volleyball, games, fashion, music and food, all wrapped up in a festival atmosphere, and Jacksonville is honored to host it for the next three years.
In their beachside chat, Marks discussed how she deals with a loss (it happens so rarely), where she sees the future of female surfing (getting on, getting on and off), and what she loves the most. in Florida (hint: this is where shopping is fun). Here are some highlights from their conversation.
Will you still be an east coast girl or will we lose you in California?
CM: Oh, still an east coast girl, for sure. It’s funny because some people who come to visit us say to themselves: “Why do you like [Florida] so many? ‘ And I’m like ‘hey, you never have to come. I love it.’ I like the people here. There is something so comfortable when I come back to Florida: the hot weather, the humidity, going on the boat, going fishing, surfing, no wetsuits. Publix, too, is a big part of what I love about Florida. Honestly, it feels like home. I have so many amazing memories here growing up. I have friends here too who I keep in touch with since I was in elementary school. So this is really special. Florida is the best.
So why move to California?
CM: We always went there as a family when I was little. My older brother competed in amateur and professional juniors and [qualifying series] events. But we officially moved there, I would say six years ago. I’m definitely more there than in Florida now, but if I get the chance to come back to Florida, I love it. It’s so fun having an event here because it gives me an excuse to come home, and we have a condo, so it’s great.
How are the waves of this contest for you? Are these the kind of small waves you grew up surfing on?
CM: Yes of course. I think the best thing about growing up here is that we didn’t ride the best waves growing up so whatever it is I’m just excited to go. No matter how bad or good the waves are, I’m just happy no matter what.
You won the Supergirl Surf Pro in California earlier this year. What does Supergirl Surf Pro mean to you?
CM: Supergirl was one of the first events when I was 12 or 13. I got a wild card and faced all my heroes. This event is huge, and it’s an all-female event, which is so cool. I’ve often finished second and third here so it was really nice to tighten this cape a few months ago in Oceanside.
What happens when you are having a bad day? How do you deal with this mentally?
CM: Yeah, obviously nobody wants to lose, right? But that’s what makes the good times so special, and it’s what makes you hungry and come back stronger. I watch like, if I don’t win, I learn. Because usually when you win you think, “Oh, I did it all, good.” You don’t really go back to see what you’ve done wrong. But when you lose, you really dive deep into what you’ve done wrong. I think you learn a lot when you lose, so I try to get the positive from that. Even though it sucks, I try to learn from it, move on and be better for the next time.
I like this. Is there anything you would say you can attribute to your success?
CM: My family, of course. I started surfing because of my brothers and them who pushed me. But they also give me incredible support. And I’m so grateful for that. I would say my family has been huge. They have been my rock. The other thing, too, is that I love surfing so much. This is why I am here because I love her outright. And the fact that I can do it like my job even though it doesn’t look like a job, it makes it so special and so great.
What was it like to be the first woman to receive equal pay at a World Surf League event in 2019?
CM: It was a huge and monumental gesture for women’s sport in general. And it was really cool that the WSL was the first big organization to take that big step. I just want to thank all the women before me who made it happen, like Carissa Moore and Stephanie Gilmore and Lisa Anderson, Frieda Zamba. I could go on and on. And the fact that I was able to take that away is something that no one can ever take away from me.
Have you ever surfed a pro event where you received half a salary compared to male competitors?
CM: Oh sure. I mean, it was like that before they made that move. Yeah, it was all like that. Everything was half or much less. It’s so cool that everything is equal now. And the men really supported him too. I know when it happened they were all posting on social media and they were really excited. It’s really great to see, and the girls are surfing so well now.
Can you tell us about the evolution of women’s surfing in recent years.
CM: Yes, they have always surfed very well, but it has grown so much. There are a lot more girls surfing, and the girls are gnarled. They surf like the guys, they make tunes. It’s crazy.
You are at the forefront of this movement. What are your plans for the future? World’s Championships ? A gold medal?
CM: Oh yes, those are obviously my big goals: world titles and gold medals. But I try to do my best to live in the moment and take each day as it comes. It’s easy to look too far. I have my big goals but for the moment I’m just trying to focus on improving my surfing, working on all my weaknesses. And I know if I do that then I can achieve my goals, and it’s really exciting.
How much time do you spend working out or surfing the water each week?
CM: That kind of ebb and flow, depending on how good or how bad the waves are, but I’m still in the water to be honest. Sometimes it shoots Lowers, and I’m there for six hours, and sometimes it’s just a few hours. But I really try to get in the water every day. It’s therapeutic for me. So, I’m just grateful for it.