15-year-old Caroline Marks officially qualified for the Championship Tour at the start of this month, as this year's World Surf League Women’s Qualifying Series finished its final event.
The 2017 season was Caroline's first real attempt at qualifying for the CT and her entrance will make her the youngest person in history to enter the tour as a rookie.
Finishing ranked No. 7 in this year's series, Marks almost missed her qualifying spot, however two double qualifying surfers opened up spots for her and New Zealand surfer Paige Hareb.
Although young, Marks is no newcomer to professional circles. She won her first of two Vans US Open of Surfing titles in the Pro Junior division aged 13, has 17 national titles attributed to her name and is the youngest NSSA Open Girls National Champion. Before qualifying, she already held the record of youngest person ever to compete in CT event, from when she surfed as a wildcard at Lower Trestles in 2015. While her list of achievements is long, Marks says that the last couple of years were not directed straight towards and aim to get on the tour.
"At the beginning of the year, I had no idea I wanted to qualify. I wasn't thinking about it at all" Mars told Surfer in a recent interview. "Things just happened so fast. I did pretty well in Australia in the beginning of the year, so I kept doing ‘QS events for experience, and I kept doing well in them."
"I was mainly focusing on my surfing this year — getting better at airs, surfing Cloudbreak, getting experience in bigger waves, and I think that helped me a lot, because I wasn't putting any pressure on myself."
Marks will go on tour with her parents, siblings and trainer Mike Parsons next year as she joins the tour as the youngest surfer on next year's roster.
As the lone Championship Tour rookie, she will only have to requalify to walk away with Rookie Of The Year, however we get the feeling that she's aiming her sights for a little more than that one accolade.
Good luck to Marks and the other five athletes confirmed for next year's tour!