Toledo, Colapinto, Marks top the podium at last week’s Hurley Pro Sunset Beach
The 2023 WSL Championship Tour season is in full swing, and with two events in the books, local surfers have much to cheer about.
Last week at the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, San Clemente residents Filipe Toledo and Griffin Colapinto finished first and second, respectively, while it was another San Clemente resident, Caroline Marks, who finished runner-up in the women’s division.
Australia’s Molly Picklum won the women’s event—the first Championship Tour victory of her young career.
Toledo is the defending world champ and now sits ranked second in the world, while Colapinto finds himself in familiar territory, ranked sixth in the world, where he finished the season last year.
Marks, a Lowers regular, is currently ranked fifth in the women’s rankings. The top five male and female surfers will qualify for the Rip Curl WSL Finals in San Clemente at the end of the season and earn a shot at the 2023 world title.
“Last year was fun, and I got what I wanted, which was my title, and I learned a lot,” Toledo told the WSL after his Sunset Beach victory, the 13th of his career. “Griffin Colapinto came out swinging, and I’m just thinking, ‘I’m ready, here we go.’ I knew the right wave would come; it was slow for a lot of the heat, but I could see he was tense having that 9.17. He seemed a little nervous; I don’t know if he was or not, and I stayed calm and composed and just waited for the wave, then do what I have to do.”
Toledo and Colapinto had squared off in the final of the 2022 Surf City El Salvador Pro. Colapinto got the win in Central America, and this time around he once again got the jump on the Brazilian champ, posting a 9-point ride in the opening minutes of their Sunset duel.
Unfortunately, the ocean went flat, and Colapinto was never able to back up his heat score with a high-scoring second ride. Toledo dug deep, found a wave and converted it for the win.
“That was a crazy heat with Filipe, and the only heats I’ve had with him are in the finals, so that’s been pretty cool,” Colapinto said afterward. “That was a good little battle, and I’m super stoked. Caroline lives in my hometown as well, so it’s a good day.”
Keeping the hometown vibes going, Marks put in a commanding performance, competing on her backhand that has historically seen few goofy-footed surfers claw their way to the podium.
“It’s been such a fun week,” said a smiling 21-year-old Marks. “I’ve had such an amazing support crew and want to thank everyone. My best friend came and surprised me, my brother’s here, my other friends are here, and it’s just been so fun.”
Up next, the Championship Tour will head east to Europe for the MEO Portugal Pro presented by Rip Curl. In April, the tour will head Down Under for the historic Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach, the oldest, longest-running professional surf contest, and the Margaret River Pro in Western Australia.
This year, a mid-season cutoff has been implemented, and once the events in Australia wrap up, the field will be cut down from 36 men to 18, and 24 women to 12.
San Clemente’s Kolohe Andino currently finds himself ranked 24th in the world, below the cutline. There’s a lot of surfing left before the controversial mid-season cut happens, and Andino has plenty of time to get himself back in the mix.
All three of the upcoming locations suit Andino’s style well, and with his buddy, Colapinto, currently rolling, he could find some added motivation and momentum.
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