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Bettylou Sakura Johnson Victorious at Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Haleiwa Challenger 

Sakura Johnson Joins John John Florence for Hawaii Sweep in Haleiwa

Hawaii Surfers Earn Top Three Spots In Final Alongside Australia’s India Robinson

Pictured front page: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) claimed her first major WSL win and Championship Tour qualification along with it. Credit: © WSL /  Brent B.

HALEIWA, Oahu/Hawaii (Monday, December 6, 2021) – Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) won the World Surf League (WSL) Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Haleiwa Challenger, the final stop of the 2021 Challenger Series, following a dramatic Final to close the event over Gabriela Bryan (HAW), Carissa Moore (HAW), and India Robinson (AUS). Sakura Johnson overcame inconsistent, three-to-four foot swell and provided moments of brilliance  to secure her first major WSL victory and secure her qualification on the 2022 Championship Tour.

“This is such a huge moment in my life,” said Sakura Johnson. “Just a big thanks to everyone being here, rain or sunshine, and I’m just going to have a big smile. Thank you to everyone in Haleiwa, helping me and supporting me, and I’m really happy to represent Haleiwa and do it here. I’m truly in shock.”

The 16-year-old’s calm demeanour with CT qualification looming was beyond her years as Sakura Johnson dropped an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10) to take the lead. Efforts from Bryan moved her into the runner-up spot over five-time WSL Champion Moore, but Sakura Johnson was out of reach after an immaculate finals day showing beginning with her Quarterfinal runner-up behind CT veteran Lakey Peterson (USA) and eventual fourth-place finisher, Robinson. Conditions tested Sakura Johnson’s ability to be patient, but she rose to the occasion in phenomenal form.
Pictured: A third runner-up finish secured Bryan’s place atop the Challenger Series rankings. Credit: © WSL /  Heff

Gabriela Bryan’s (HAW) determination and powerful surfing guided her way straight into the Final with clutch performances to advance through the Quarterfinal and Semifinal bouts over Challenger Series threats and CT hopefuls. The confirmed 2022 CT Rookie came into Haleiwa wanting to finish the year strong and did just that to claim the Challenger Series rankings leader as she looks to keep her confidence heading into the HIC Pipe Pro in coming days and the Billabong Pro Pipeline to start the CT season.

“I’m so happy to win the Challenger Series and I’ve gotten so much confidence throughout the year at these events,” said Bryan. “Surfing against Carissa (Moore) multiple times definitely helped build that and she’s been one of my idols since I started surfing. I can’t wait to be on the CT next year and start it here in Hawaii.”

Pictured: The 5X WSL Champion Moore right at home. Credit: © WSL /  Brent B.

Moore’s powerful surfing was on full display en route to the Final with the day’s highest heat total, a 16.27 (out of a possible 20) in the Semifinals, and single-wave score of an 8.40 (out of a possible 10) in the Quarterfinals. The 5X WSL Champion and Olympic gold medalist ended qualification runs for Alyssa Spencer (USA) and Vahine Fierro (FRA) with her dominant performance in the Semifinals.

“I was just having fun out there and this is quite some weather we’re having out here today,” said Moore. “I’m stoked there’s waves left over and happy to be back in a jersey again – especially to be at home. The next generation of Hawaii women is so great and it’s really exciting that we’re going to have more of them on Tour next year.”

Pictured: A massive moment for Robinson coming in from her Semifinal heat to realize she had qualified for the Championship Tour. Credit: © WSL /  Brent B.

Australia’s Robinson came into this event with plenty of hype behind her and the 21-year-old lived up to it. A dominant showcase of her forehand attack led her to a massive Quarterfinal victory before yet another win in the Semifinals, ultimately leading to the elimination of fellow Australian threat Molly Picklum. But, despite a fourth-place finish, Robinson had the work done and will be among the world’s best in 2022.

“I can’t believe I made the Final after such a big week and it’s a dream come true,” said Robinson. “I’ve worked so hard for this and it has paid off. I’m still in shock, but wow, I can’t wait for next year.”

The next event will be the HIC Pipe Pro QS 1,000 beginning December 8 – 20 at Banzai Pipeline, North Shore, Oahu.

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Women’s Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Haleiwa Challenger Final Results:
1 – Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 13.17   10,000 points
2 – Gabriel Bryan (HAW) 11.50                       8,000 points
3 – Carissa Moore (HAW) 9.76                        6,500 points
4 – India Robinson (AUS) 2.00                        6,100 points

Women’s Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Haleiwa Challenger Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Carissa Moore (HAW) 16.27, Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 12.17, Alyssa Spencer (USA) 10.30, Vahine Fierro (FRA) 10.30
SF 2: India Robinson (AUS) 11.43, Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 11.20, Lakey Peterson (USA) 10.23, Molly Picklum (AUS) 9.26

Women’s Michelob ULTRA Pure Gold Haleiwa Challenger Quarterfinal Results:
QF 1: Alyssa Spencer (USA) 7.73, Vahine Fierro (FRA) 7.70, Pua Desoto (HAW) 6.74, Yolanda Hopkins (PRT) 6.27
QF 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) 15.27, Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 13.43, Brisa Hennessy (CRI) 12.84, Luana Silva (HAW) 12.10
QF 3: Molly Picklum (AUS) 11.50, India Robinson (AUS) 10.73, Sarah Baum (ZAF) 10.47, Amuro Tsuzuki (JPN) 9.57
QF 4: Lakey Peterson (USA) 11.70, Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 10.60, Macy Callaghan (AUS) 9.30, Savanna Stone (HAW) 6.37

Women’s Challenger Series Rankings:
1. Gabriela Bryan (HAW)
2. Brisa Hennessy (CRI)
3. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW)
4. Caitlin Simmers (USA)
5. India Robinson (AUS)
6. Carissa Moore (HAW)
7. Luana Silva (HAW)

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