The Inertia

Caitlin Simmers and Barron Mamiya have won the 2024 Lexus Pipe Pro. Pumping conditions produced career-defining performances from both the men and the women on an explosive finals day that included not one, but two 10-point rides.

The beginning of the 2024 season opener certainly had its ups and downs. Day one saw favorable conditions and the kind of drama we’d been hoping for: big barrels, brutal wipeouts, and electric performances from both returning powerhouses and a rabid pack of hungry rookies.

However, the surf then disappeared, leading to a frustrating series of lay-days (and one questionable call to not resume competition in what many argued was a firing day at Pipe). Today, though, all frustrations were cast aside for the finals, as the surf returned and we got a front-row seat to the kind of barnstormer that we’ve come to expect from the surfing world’s greatest stage.

The women’s bracket was marked by two meteoric rises to the finals from Molly Picklum and Caitlin Simmers. On one side of the bracket, Simmers carved a path through Isabella Nichols, Tatiana Weston-Webb and Brisa Hennessey. Meanwhile, Picklum dominated Alyssa Spencer and Johanne Defay, before coming up against Bettylou Sakura Johnson in an early candidate for heat of the year. Though Johnson was in top form, Molly scored a perfect 10-point ride that secured her spot in the final.

It seemed like Picklum’s momentum would continue in that final, when she scored a 9.33 ride right out the gate. However, a series of sub two-point waves left the door wide open for Simmers to catch up on total points. Though Simmers was not able to eclipse that first score on any individual ride, an excellent 8.83 followed by a 3.83 allowed her to rack up an overall score that earned her the win.

In perhaps the best post-heat interview since Bobby Martinez’s profanity-laden tirade against the ASP, Simmers responded to WSL commentator Strider Wasilewski with a simple message: “Pipeline’s for the f**cking girls. That’s all I have to say.”

She’s right. There really isn’t any need for more proof that women can dominate at Pipeline, but the show they put on today feels definitive. The numbers don’t lie: Picklum’s perfect score was just the tip of an iceberg that included three additional nine-point rides from the women’s roster. “It’s always been known the girls can surf Pipe,” Simmers added in an interview on the beach.  “But I think the last few months it’s been really clear.”

Though they had a tough act to follow, the men’s side of the competition was another tour de force. The final came down to Pipeline legend John John Florence and 24-year-old North Shore local Barron Mamiya. The heat started off with Florence taking an early lead with a solid 7.33 against a 6.00 from Mamiya. Florence seemed to be pulling even farther ahead when he posted an excellent eight points on his next wave. However, mere seconds later, it was overshadowed by a jaw-dropping 10-point wave on a cavernous left from Mamiya as he pumped his chest and flexed mightily upon exit. From there on out, JJF simply could not catch up. No small part of that was due to a series of lulls that left Florence sitting next to Mamiya in the water, watching the gold slip out of his grasp.

Afterwards, Mamiya breathlessly recounted the heat-clinching 10-point run. The ride started off with a takeoff so deep that he himself was shocked to emerge from the other end. “I can’t believe it. That ten, I literally couldn’t believe I made it,” he told Wasilewski in the water afterwards. “I was in the barrel and I just couldn’t believe I made it out.”

From the beach, Mamiya also revealed that John John Florence may in fact have been the architect of his own destruction. “Without John, without Jamie, without Uncle D, I wouldn’t be who I am,” he said. “I watched these guys surf my entire life. I’ve watched John surf out here every single day. Watching him is how I learned how to get barreled, so I give him lots of credit for the way I surf.”

Next up: Sunset.


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