By Darci Miller | Oct. 26, 2019, 1:47 p.m. (ET)
Caroline Marks competes at the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal on Oct. 26, 2019 in Peniche, Portugal.

 

Caroline Marks and Lakey Peterson share a coach. They call themselves sparring partners and frequently run mock heats to mimic a competition environment.

At the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, those practice runs manifested themselves in the final, with Marks taking the victory by a 13.73-6.27 margin.

Coach Mike Parsons said that the prior day of practice heats were tied, though Marks had the single highest wave score. When the scores counted, Marks rode away with both of those honors.

“That was incredible,” Marks said after the win. “I’ve been dreaming of having a final with Lakey, and I’ve been talking about it since I started working with Mike, and I just want to say thanks to her for pushing me so much. I wouldn’t be here without her.

“That was super fun. The waves got a little tough, but I’m so stoked. Best year of my life. I can’t believe it.”

Peterson jumped out to an early lead, scoring 3.50 and 2.77 on her first and third waves, respectively. But Marks scored a 5.67 on her second wave and 6.33 on her third, and improved both of them with a 7.40 on her fifth. Peterson was not able to muster a comeback, and Marks earned the win and 10,000 points towards the standings, pushing her up into the No. 3 ranking and a chance at the world title.

Marks advanced to the final with a semifinal defeat of Brazil’s Tatiana Weston-Webb, 13.16-7.70.

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Just 17 years old, the 2018 Rookie of the Year won her first career event at the Boost Mobile Pro Gold Coast in April. Despite being held winless since, in her last three events she’s earned two third-place finishes and was runner-up at the Roxy Pro France.

Peterson advanced to the final by defeating compatriot and standings leader and three-time world champion Carissa Moore, 13.23-11.50, who could have clinched the world title with a win. Now, Moore will duke it out with both Peterson and Marks at the season finale in Maui in November to determine the world champion.

Peterson is coming off the best season of her career in 2018, earning two event wins and finishing the season ranked No. 2 in the world. In 2019, she has two event titles and two second-place finishes and is ranked No. 2 in the Women’s Championship Tour standings.

Surfing will make its Olympic debut next summer at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Eight women will qualify via the Championship Tour rankings, including two Americans.

Darci Miller is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.