‘It has been a bit of a journey and it’s been a beautiful one’: Hawaii’s Carissa Moore caps historic season with fifth world title following Olympic gold

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Carissa Moore

Olympic gold medalist and defending champion Carissa Moore of Honolulu won her fifth world title on Tuesday with a triumphant finish at the World Surf League’s Rip Curl WSL Finals in San Clemente, California.

It was the first time the WSL decided its world champions in a one-day, winner-take-all format involving the top five women’s and men’s surfers based on the season points standings. A day later, and Moore is still on cloud nine.

“It was a really special day yesterday. It was a historic moment tor surfing and for the WSL to have this finals format and have it all come down to one day, winner takes all. It was a little nerve racking,” Moore told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello on Wednesday morning. “We had an incredible swell at Lower Trestles so there was lots of waves and opportunities for all of us to perform which is just the way we would want it. It definitely feels really rewarding and satisfying to be able to check off a goal that you set out for months and months ago.”

Moore was seeded directly into the final match, where she beat Brazilian born and Kauai raised Tatiana Weston-Webb to defend her world title. The victory capped an unprecedented year for the 29-year-old Punahou graduate who just seven weeks ago became the first woman to claim an Olympic gold medal. Adding to the emotions of accomplishing those goals is the fact that it was done amid a pandemic with an altered WSL schedule and constantly navigating around cancelled events and last minute changes.

“You bring tears to my eyes Rob, because yeah, it has been a bit of a journey and it’s been a beautiful one but challenging at times and yeah, there’s been lots of ups and downs and everything in between this season but I think if anything the pandemic has taught me and maybe all of us is just learning how to let go and go with the flow a little bit more and learning how to adapt. Despite everything going on, I’m really grateful to be able to compete on the world tour and chase my dreams and do something that I love.”

SAN CLEMENTE, CALIFORNIA, USA – SEPTEMBER 14: Four-time WSL Champion Carissa Moore of Hawaii after winning the Title Match of the Rip Curl WSL Finals on September 14, 2021 at Lower Trestles, San Clemente, California. (Photo by Pat Nolan/World Surf League)

Brazil’s Gabriel Medina won his third men’s world title. He ended the regular season with a huge points lead and beat third-seeded Filipe Toledo of Brazil in the men’s final. Toledo had eliminated Olympic gold medalist and defending world champion Italo Ferreira of Brazil, the second seed.

Moore and Medina each won $200,000 out of the identical $470,000 purses.

Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore lost the day’s first match, ending her shot at a record eighth women’s world title.

Moore’s five titles rank second in women’s surfing history behind Gilmore and fellow Australian Layne Beachley. As for a pursuit at title number six, Moore says she’ll start looking ahead after returning home later this month.

“You bring tears to my eyes Rob, because yeah, it has been a bit of a journey and it’s been a beautiful one but challenging at times and yeah, there’s been lots of ups and downs and everything in between this season but I think if anything the pandemic has taught me and maybe all of us is just learning how to let go and go with the flow a little bit more and learning how to adapt. Despite everything going on, I’m really grateful to be able to compete on the world tour and chase my dreams and do something that I love.”

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