|Women’s Semifinal Will Go Down in Surfing’s History Books
The second women’s Semifinal will go down in surfing history books as arguably the most entertaining showdown ever witnessed on the women’s CT. Picklum and Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) put everything they had on the line at both Banzai Pipeline and Backdoor, locking into deep, radical barrels on multiple occasions throughout their 30-minute matchup.
Picklum had her 10-point ride and seemed untouchable on her way to the Final, but in the dying moments of the heat, Sakura Johnson found an iconic Banzai left and rode it brilliantly with a late take-off, barely making it under the lip. The 18-year-old threaded the barrel high to exit cleanly, earning an 8.33, slightly shy of the 8.61 requirement needed to turn the heat. Regardless, the boundary-breaking match-up will be remembered for decades to come as one of the epic battles of Pipeline.
Earlier in the day, the Hawaiian scored one of the event’s best waves, with a near-perfect 9.70. The wave stood up tall on the Backdoor reef and accelerated as the Hawaiian matched its speed perfectly to take a clean exit after the spit. Sakura Johnson records a second consecutive Semifinal result at Pipeline, further cementing her place as one of the strongest surfers on the North Shore.
“You just really have to put in time out here at Pipeline,” Sakura Johnson said. “I’m really happy we got these waves; these are the days we dream of. That wave came, and Caroline had priority, but she wasn’t really looking, and I thought it was going to hit the reef really well so I just committed, put my head down, and went for it and I made it out, so I couldn’t be more stoked.”
Marks and Ewing Maintain Form With Strong Season Starts
2023 World Champion Caroline Marks (USA) started off strong with an equal 5th place finish, her best result at Pipeline to date. The talented goofy foot stayed patient in the lineup, opting to seek out the clean lefts on the Banzai Pipeline, but unfortunately faced an in-rhythm Sakura Johnson, who found absolute bombs at Backdoor and eliminated the Floridian.
Last year’s runner-up in the World Title race, Ethan Ewing (AUS), also had a stellar start to his season at Pipeline, reaching the Quarterfinals for the first time in his young career and scoring great rides along the way. The Australian, who by his own admission lacked experience in the heavier barreling waves on Tour, clearly put in the work in the off-season and looked comfortable at Pipe, only falling to a slow first heat this morning where he didn’t get many opportunities to showcase his skills.
For highlights from Finals Day at the Lexus Pipe Pro Presented by YETI, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.