At the Pipe Pro, Caitlin Simmers stole the show with a well-deserved win and an extremely memorable post-heat interview. However, the real high point came earlier in the contest.
It all went down in the semi-final round. Runner-up Molly Picklum and Bettylou Sakura Johnson faced off in what may be one of the greatest single heats in the history of women’s surfing.
Picklum secured an early lead with a 5.33, bolstered by a 1.43. Johnson appeared to be catching up, after scoring a strong 7-point ride, but then that wave happened. With 16 minutes to go in the heat, Molly dropped in and grabbed a rail on a deep barrel that landed her a perfect 10.
Johnson was left needing an 8.61 to put her in the lead. Though it was a tall order, this was the heat where it could happen. In fact, it almost did – with less than a minute to go, Sakura dropped into a deep, rifling barrel that she rode in to shore. However, when the judges scores came back, she was heartbreakingly shy – 8.33. On virtually any other day, we would have seen her in the final.
Afterwards, Picklum recounted to commentator AJ McCord what was going on in her head as she took off on the historic ride. “The wave – I was just like, ‘Bettylou’s not going and I need a score. I know she’s capable of tens,” she said. “I just took off and, I don’t know, I thought ‘it’s got some draw to it and I may as well roll the dice and try.'”