Top of the World

February 23, 2024
AT THE TOP: Molly Picklum may be only 21, but she surfs like a tour veteran and is not afraid of anything. WSL / Bielmann

Women's surfing achieved a new milestone in Hawaii this year after taming the heavy waters of Pipeline and Sunset, while Jordy Smith reached the semifinal of the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach yesterday.

Australian Molly Picklum, at the tender age of 21, swept to victory in cranking 6-8ft waves of Sunset Beach, while another Australian Jack Robinson, a veritable ballie at 26, won the men's event.

The heavyweight duel between 2x World Champion John John Florence (HAW) and perennial World Title threat Jordy provided fireworks in the second Quarterfinal clash of the men's. Smith was in rhythm with Sunset all week long and opened up with a great 7.33 (out of possible 10) to put Florence under pressure. The South African swung into a big right-hander that opened up for a technical barrel ride that Smith read perfectly to post an excellent 8.33 to ultimately claim the heat win.

"Coming up against John is one of the hardest heats to draw out here," Smith said. "He is surfing at its pinnacle when it comes to his rail game, so for me it was just a good opportunity to try and go up against that. He ended up being too deep for that wave that I got the barrel on, so I was stoked."

Smith came up against Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) in the Semifinals and the tables were turned, with Igarashi finding the better waves. Smith couldn't catch up to Igarashi and was eliminated in equal third. He now heads to Portugal ranked fourth in the world.

"A result like this gives you bit of confidence, a bit of momentum so now it's just about trusting the process and let the ball play out. You can't take it too seriously, just have fun and enjoy it."

The second stop on the 2024 World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT) was held in epic 6-8ft righthanders at Sunset Beach. The proving grounds of Oahu’s North Shore once again offered a real challenge to the best surfers in the world with solid waves, in shifting lineups, but overall plenty of opportunities to showcase their talent and kick off the new season.

The first two events at Pipeline and Sunset showcased a monumental shift in women’s professional surfing, with the Top 17 taking on some serious conditions, with some of the youngest competitors showing up with massive performances and commitment to raise the bar.

DARE WE ASK? We all know that Jordy can win the world title, so what is the question? Shhh. Don't jinx it. WSL / Bielmann

Picklum was an integral part of the charge in making history this month as she collected huge scores for her relentless approach to hitting the biggest sections of the waves, holding nothing back. Today she earned back-to-back titles at Sunset. This win marks Picklum’s second victory on Tour, out of four Finals surfed, and the Australian will be wearing the yellow Leader jersey heading to Portugal for the next stop of the 2024 CT as the new World No.1.

Jack Robinson (AUS) continues to build his legacy on the North Shore, as he picks up win No. 6 on the CT, his first at Sunset. After an upset loss in the Round of 32 at Pipe, the Australian bounced back in the best way with total domination all week, an incredible display of his signature carves, and the ability to find the deepest, cleanest barrels at Sunset.

Top of the World

Two surfers with a lot of history, competing against each other since their early grom years, Robinson and Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) met in the Final after dominating all week at Sunset. The Australian pulled the trigger first and wasted no time as his first wave went straight to excellence, an 8.17, to make his intentions clear to his opponent.

After an unlikely mistake on his first attempt, Igarashi fought back with a 7.33 to stay in fighting distance. But Robinson kept building momentum and found an absolute gem, locking into two barreling sections after a massive carve and was rewarded with a near-perfect 9.87 to put the Japanese surfer into an 18.04 combination situation (out of a possible 20). Despite his best efforts, the gap was too much for Igarashi to overcome and Robinson claimed the win. The West Australian will leave Hawaii ranked second in the world.

John John put up a great fight against Jordy in the Quarters but ultimately fell short
PARTY POOPER: Kanoa Igarashi beat Jordy with great surfing, but the upside is that Jordy is 4th in the world. WSL / Heff

North Shore local and two-time World Champion John John Florence (HAW) put up a great fight against Smith in the Quarters but ultimately fell short and had to settle for an equal 5th at Sunset after a runner-up at Pipe. His consistency at home has served him well, however, as he leaves Hawaii in pole position on the rankings and will be World No. 1 in Portugal.

The World No. 1 coming into this week at Sunset, Caitlin Simmers (USA), reached the Quarterfinals with fairly low scores and, by her own admission, average heat execution and unfortunately couldn’t turn on her magic against an in-form Hennessy this morning. Simmers spent most of the 30 minutes waiting in the lineup for set waves that never manifested and exited the heat with only 2 points on the board and an equal 5th-place result. She will head to Portugal, where she is the defending event winner, ranked second in the world.

For more news and highlights from Finals Day at the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, please visit

Women’s Final

1 - Molly Picklum (AUS) 11.83
2 - Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 8.67

Men’s Final

1 - Jack Robinson (AUS) 18.04
2 - Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 15.16

Women’s semifinal

HEAT 1: Molly Picklum (AUS) 17.44 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 9.07
HEAT 2: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 12.66 DEF. Caroline Marks (USA) 10.40

Men’s Semifinal

HEAT 1: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN) 14.83 DEF. Jordy Smith (RSA) 12.50
HEAT 2: Jack Robinson (AUS) 16.10 DEF. Ryan Callinan (AUS) 13.10