JBay’s Jordy Smith Gets 5th Place at Pipeline, Hawaii.

JBay’s Jordy Smith Gets 5th Place at Pipeline, Hawaii.

BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu, Hawaii, USA (Sunday, February 11, 2024) – Caitlin Simmers (USA) and Barron Mamiya (HAW) won the Lexus Pipe Pro Presented by YETI, Stop No. 1 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2024 Championship Tour (CT). Simmers defeated Molly Picklum (AUS), while Mamiya took down two-time World Champion John John Florence (HAW) in the Finals, held in picture-perfect six-to-eight-foot waves at Pipeline. These victories mark the first CT event wins at Pipeline for Simmers and Mamiya.  

The swell showed up for Finals Day and offered a dreamy canvas for the world’s best athletes to showcase their talent on one of the heaviest waves on earth. A massive day of competition in incredible conditions delivered the first-ever Perfect 10 in a women’s CT at Pipeline, highlighting an iconic day that featured match-ups that will go down in history.

Simmers Wins Pipe, Heads to Sunset as World No. 1 

In just her second season among the world’s best surfers, Caitlin Simmers(USA) claimed a statement win at Pipeline, fearlessly attacking the solid Backdoor and Banzai waves all day. This marks the 18-year-old’s third victory on the CT and cements her place as one of the brightest stars of professional surfing.

“This wave is terrifying; I respect everyone who wants a part of it and everyone who doesn’t because it’s really scary out there,” Simmers said. “It starts with all the girls that battled the guys and barely got any waves, and I hope that this event showed the girls can do it. We’re getting spat out all day, and it’s pretty cool to see. I’m really happy to be a part of it.”

The women’s Final featured a battle between last season’s World No. 4 and No. 5, Simmers and Picklum, culminating their success through the draw this week as the event’s overall standouts in Hawaiian waters. 

Picklum put her foot on the gas first with yet another incredible ride at Backdoor to post a 9.27 (out of a possible 10) as her first score for the early lead. Simmers did not back out of the fight and came back at her opponent with a similarly deep tube on a foamy right for an 8.83 to stay right in the battle. With time ticking down, both surfers were still sitting on minimal backup scores, though a smart, two-turn combination from Simmers gave her the edge to apply pressure on Picklum. The Australian got a last roll of the dice in the dying seconds but failed to make a backhand barrel, and Simmers walked away with the win.

“Molly’s a guru; she’s probably the best girl out here, in my opinion,” Simmers said of her opponent. “One heat out here is like months of experience, and getting barrelled in a heat with your friend is the most fun thing in the world.”

Earlier in the day, Simmers scored an incredible Backdoor gem, posting a 9.17 (out of a possible 10) for a double overhead clean barrel, only matched by her precise technique to get a clean exit. This near-perfect ride set the Oceanside local on a path to victory in the first event of the season.

Picklum Finds Perfection at Pipe, Secures Runner-Up Position 

On her way to the Final, Molly Picklum (AUS) found the first 10-point ride of the 2024 season at the most revered wave on the planet, redefining the boundaries of women’s surfing. The Australian, who has been chasing that perfect backhand tube at the Banzai Pipeline all week, finally found herself in the right position. Dropping very late into a double-up, she barely squeezed under the lip before coming out with the spit to collect the perfect score for her flawless technique and commitment.

The 21-year-old will head to the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach as the defending event champion, in second position on the CT rankings. She will undoubtedly be one of the favourites again next week, especially if the waves keep pumping as expected.

“We were so blessed today to have Pipeline in its absolute best day of days, and to be out there with Caity was amazing,” Picklum said. “I was enjoying every moment and enjoying the rides. It feels like a second home here, and I’m thankful for all the locals that are really encouraging us women, show us around and show us how it’s done.”

Mamiya Finds Magic at Pipeline, Wins with Perfect 10-Point Ride

Barron Mamiya (HAW), a 24-year-old Haleiwa local, claimed the Lexus Pipe Pro presented by YETI men’s title in fantastic fashion, overcoming Florence in pumping surf to claim an early pole position on the 2024 CT rankings. Mamiya, who arrived on Tour after a wildcard victory in the 2022 Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, is no stranger to wearing the yellow jersey and will be lethal just up the road next week.

“That 10, I literally can’t believe I made it,” Mamiya said. I was in the barrel and couldn’t believe I came out. Without John, Jamie (O’Brien), and Uncle D (Derek Ho), I wouldn’t be who I am. I watched these guys surf my entire life, and watching John here is how I learned to get barrels at Pipeline, so I give him lots of credit for the way I surf.”

The all-Hawaiian men’s Final witnessed 2021 Pipe victor and mainstay Florence and proven Pipe charger Mamiya battling in their own backyard. The first exchange was a split of the peak, Mamiya going left and Florence right, with the two-time World Champion getting the nudge, earning a 7.33 over his opponent’s 6.00. Only moments later, both surfers started on back-to-back lefts, and while Florence’s first wave of the set looked good, Mamiya behind got way deeper on a bigger wave and rode it to perfection, scoring a Perfect 10-point ride, the second to be claimed on an epic Finals Day. As time slowly ran out, Florence found a few more opportunities, trying to manufacture a score out of lesser quality waves, but was unsuccessful, sealing the deal on Mamiya’s second tour victory, his first at Pipeline.

“Growing up on the North Shore, this is an event that you always want to win,” Mamiya added. “To finally win it, with John in the Final, and to get a 10, I’m literally at a loss for words. I’ll definitely never forget this day for the rest of my life.”

Florence Passes the Torch to Fellow North Shore Charger, Settles for Runner-Up

Two-time World Champion John John Florence (HAW) added another impeccable run to a long list of results from his home event, continuing to post incredible scores in most heats on his way to a fourth Final appearance at Pipeline. This marked Florence’s 100th career CT event, and he has his eyes set on a big year ahead with renewed vigour for competition. 

“Just growing up here and getting to surf this wave my whole life, I feel like it’s a huge privilege,” Florence said. “It was awesome to have Barron in the Final, he’s such a good surfer, that 10 was so crazy. Being a competitor, you don’t want to see it, but that was pretty sick. I’m really excited for this year, I was having a lot of fun competing and I really can’t wait for the next heat.” 

At 31 years of age and after nearly 15 years on Tour, Florence’s passion for competing looks intact and his motivation and relaxed attitude promise more exciting battles as the CT continues next week at Sunset.

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.”

Girls Charging At Pipeline

Girls Charging At Pipeline

The year’s Lexus Pipe Pro was a bit of a shitshow, to be honest, with world champion Filipe Toledo too scared to take off and the WSL refusing to run on the best day of the waiting period. Still, the highlight was that the girls absolutely turned the corner and proved to the world that they could absolutely charge Pipeline as well.

This season alone, Pipe has delivered six very heavy accidents, with all six surfers involved in wipeouts needing urgent medical care. So, a certain amount of bravery is always required. The girls came to the party.

Pipeline Turns On for Opening Day at the Lexus Pipe Pro Presented by YETI

Pipeline Turns On for Opening Day at the Lexus Pipe Pro Presented by YETI

BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu, Hawaii, USA (Wednesday, January 31, 2024) – Opening day of the World Surf League (WSL) 2024 Championship Tour (CT) season got underway at Stop No. 1, the Lexus Pipe Pro Presented by YETI, with an exciting day of competition held in solid, six-to-eight foot, offshore tubes at Pipeline. The iconic North Shore break delivered heavy, hollow waves all day to complete the first two rounds of the men’s event, eventually dealing the first eliminations of the season to an unlucky few.

Men’s Opening Round and First Eliminations Start 2024 CT Season

It wasn’t long before excellent scores emerged and the three-time WSL Champion Gabriel Medina (BRA) was the first surfer to break into the excellent range with a foamy left at Pipe and a super deep barrel for an 8.33 (out of a possible 10). With a decent backup, the Brazilian seemed in control, but Callum Robson (AUS) launched himself even deeper on a pristine Pipeline gem on his backhand and rode it on the foam ball for a 9-point ride to regain control of the heat.

“When I got out there, it felt like the energy was shifting towards Pipe, so I tried to establish the inside for the lefts,” Robson said. “I didn’t want to sit and wait for too long, and that first wave made me realize I needed some waves with more draw to them, then I got that 9, which I was stoked on.”

Slater V Robinson

In the following heat, 11-time World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) and 2023 Pipe Pro winner Jack Robinson (AUS) went head to head with Backdoor and Pipe waves. Slater posted the highest single score, but Robinson took the heat win with a higher backup to send Rio Waida (INA) into the Elimination Round.

World No.3 Griffin Colapinto (USA) had a slow start in his 2024 debut for the first 25 minutes but turned it all around with a bomb left for an excellent 8.50 (out of a possible 10) in the last moments of his heat. He backed it up on the buzzer and somehow made the heat in first, sending good friend and former Pipe finalist Seth Moniz (HAW) into the Elimination Round. Although not technically a rookie on Tour, Ramzi Boukhiam (MAR) made it through this heat with Colapinto and will surf again in the Round of 32. After missing the 2024 season, Boukhiam hopes to make the most of his time as the injury replacement on the Hawaii leg.

Florence Kicks Off 100th CT Appearance in Incredible Fashion

The day’s highest combined heat total was claimed by John John Florence(HAW) with a 15.20 (out of a possible 20) in Heat 7 against Jake Marshall (USA) and Caio Ibelli (BRA). Marshall and Ibelli had a good fight for second place, but the Pipeline local was once again untouchable in his backyard. Florence’s wave selection was on point and he made every drop and barrel ride look really easy.

“That is a lot of events, a lot of heats, and a lot of surfing,” Florence said. “It got me really excited and gave me a lot of confidence actually, thinking, wow I spent a lot of time surfing heats now. Sometimes, at the beginning of the year you’re nervous and feel almost like a rookie, that everything’s starting again for the first time. But no, I’ve been here for a while, and maybe I don’t think about it as much.”

Pipeline Turns On for Opening Day

Rookies and Wildcards Tested on Opening Day of Men’s 2024 CT

Wildcard Jackson Bunch (HAW) put on a clinic in familiar waters and posted an upset win in the Opening Round of competition. Bunch was sitting dead last in the last few seconds of his heat against World No.2 Ethan Ewing(AUS) and CT Rookie Cole Houshmand (USA) when he dropped behind the peak on a big and fast Pipe left, which he rode to excellence, earning an 8.77 (out of a possible 10) for his effort and the win.

“I’m just here to have fun, and to get to surf Pipe with three guys out is a blast,” Bunch admitted. “I surfed a pretty bad heat, and the waves were not going my way. I knew there were 30 seconds left when Ethan went on his wave, and the next wave I was going no matter what, I just had to give it a try. Coming from Hawaii, surfing in this event is every little surfer’s dream.”

A tough day for the 2024 CT rookie class did not phase Maui’s Eli Hanneman(HAW), who put on a clutch performance to pick up another win for the Hawaiian islands in the Opening Round. Fellow rookie Crosby Colapinto(USA) faced another in-form Hawaiian in Barron Mamiya (HAW) but did enough to advance behind in the second position to avoid the treacherous Elimination Round.

Pipeline Turns On for Opening Day

Jordy Smith Enters

Facing potential elimination after tough starts in their Opening Round heats were 2024 CT rookies Jacob Willcox (AUS), Kade Matson (USA), and Cole Houshmand (USA). All but Houshmand, who fell to Jordy Smith (RSA) and Liam O’Brien (AUS), turned their fates around with advancing positions in their Elimination Round heats to advance into the Round of 32.

After falling to 2019 World Champion Italo Ferreira (BRA) and Miguel Pupo(BRA) in the Opening Round, Jacob Willcox (AUS) redeemed himself in the Elimination Round with a win over CT sophomore Ian Gentil (HAW) and veteran Caio Ibelli (BRA). Willcox will await his next matchup against perennial CT threat Yago Dora (BRA), while Ibelli is eliminated in equal 33rd place.

Shion Crawford (HAW), event wildcard, earned an excellent 8.00 (out of a possible 10), with a long and wide open Backdoor pit after he suffered a couple of heavy wipeouts that helped settle the nerves in his first-ever CT heat. Troubled to find a decent second score, Crawford settled for second place, but he sent the reigning World Champion Filipe Toledo (BRA) into the Elimination Round.

Current World No. 1 Filipe Toledo Withdraws Due to Illness

Despite struggling with food poisoning, Toledo paddled out for his Opening Round heat. Toledo was then relegated to Elimination Round 2 against Crawford and Samuel Pupo, but was forced to withdraw from the competition due to illness. His opponents in the Elimination Round, Deivid Silva (BRA) and Seth Moniz (HAW), will advance to Round 32 with Toledo’s absence.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.