Hawaii’s Carissa Moore won the 2021 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) title on Tuesday, less than two months after winning the inaugural Olympic gold medal in surfing. The result marks Moore’s fifth career world title.
Moore, 29, defeated Brazil’s Tatiana Weston-Webb in a best-of three final to close out the 2021 CT season.
“It was a crazy back-and-forth battle,” Moore said right after the final timer ran out. “Number five sounds pretty good!”
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In the past, the title of “world’s best surfer” was awarded based on end-of-season rankings on the CT. But ahead of the 2021 season, a new format was introduced: a one-day surf-off featuring the top five surfers. As the top-ranked athlete entering today’s competition at Lower Trestles in San Clemente, Moore received a bye to the best-of-three final.
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Weston-Webb, ranked second on the CT, had a bye to the third round and defeated Australia’s Sally Fitzgibbons to earn a spot in the final. Weston-Webb won the first heat, surprising even Moore.
“It wasn’t how I imagined it would start,” Moore said. “I was about to have a little bit of a meltdown after the first heat.” Moore credited her husband, Luke Untermann, with helping psych her up for the rest of the competition.
After Moore battled back to win the second heat, a shark sighting during the men’s final between Gabriel Medina and Filipe Toledo put the competition on hold. Eventually, the surfers were cleared to resume.
Moore led from the very start of the third heat. With less than two minutes left, Weston-Webb had a chance to challenge Moore for the world title, but wasn’t able to complete the ride.
Despite the tough battle, Moore appreciated the suspense of the new format. “I’ve never been in the water and won a world title so that was pretty special,” she said.
With her fifth world title, Carissa Moore adds to historic surfing legacy
While Weston-Webb fell short of the 2021 WSL CT title, her second-place finish marks the best season finish of her career. Weston-Webb, who was born in Brazil and grew up in Hawaii, competed for Hawaii until 2018 when she decided to make the switch and represent Brazil.
With the win, Moore is the first Hawaiian woman to win back-to-back world titles since 1981. After claiming the 2019 world title, Moore announced that she was taking the 2020 season off of the Championship Tour, citing a desire to spend more time working on other projects. But as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the 2020 CT ended up being cancelled, making Moore the defending world champ heading into the WSL season finale.
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