Stars stake world surf title claims in El Salvador

Australian Jack Robinson is the closest to Hawaiian star John John Florence, who has taken a commanding lead in the men's World Surf League standings.

Florence, a two-time world champion, scored his 18th perfect 10 wave in the semi-finals on the way to winning the Surf City El Salvador Pro.

Securing his place in the top five, Florence also now leads the standings by a whopping 10,740 points, with two more rounds until the September finals.

By contrast, 8605 points separate Robinson from 10th-placed American Crosby Colapinto.

El Salvador is also proving a happy hunting ground for American defending world champion Caroline Marks, who won the women's event for the second year running.

Just as El Salvador was the springboard for Marks' first world title last year, she moved up three places to second on the rankings behind compatriot Caitlin Simmers.

Molly Picklum is the best-placed Australian in the women's world title hunt, losing one spot in El Salvador to be fourth.

Florence is the last non-Brazilian to win the men's world title, taking it out in 2016 and '17, and he has never made the final since the current format was introduced in 2021.

El Salvador was his first tour win of the season, after three runner-up finishes.

After starting the day with a quarter-final win over Colapinto, Florence then unleashed his 10-point perfection on the way to taking out South African Matthew McGillivray.

Florence opened up a lead over Brazilian Jago Dora in the final, but Dora scored a 9.77 wave to put the heat on the Hawaiian.

Conditions then calmed and Florence won 16.33 to 14.44 in the three-to four-foot conditions at Punta Roca.

"That’s for Darwin, oh my god, I’m so stoked," said Florence, dedicating the win to his new-born son.

"I’m just super stoked to win an event. In the end, I was thinking not another second, I gotta get the win in this one then, when he got that nine, I just thought, 'oh no, there’s going to be sets.'

"But then it just went flat. I can’t believe it."

Earlier, Dora won his quarter-final against Robinson, the only Australian in action on the last day at El Salvador.

Hawaiian Gabriela Bryan fought her way out of a combination situation, where she needed two new scores, to nearly beat Marks in their final.

The American won 14.80 to 14.46 for her first event win this season.

"It was a dream week for me. It feels good to be back in winning form, and it sets me up really nicely for the rest of the year," Marks said.

It is much tighter at the top of the women's rankings, with Simmers No.1 on 38,185 points.

Marks is 440 points behind her, with the top five going into the men's and women's finals.

Sixth-ranked Bryan is well in the hunt on 32,510.

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