SUNSET BEACH, Oahu, Hawaii (Sunday, February 19, 2023) – Today, Molly Picklum (AUS) and Filipe Toledo (BRA) won the )( Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, the second stop on the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Championship Tour (CT), in six-to-eight foot waves at Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu.
Despite being early in the season, today’s Hurley Pro Sunset Beach results are critical to the CT rankings, with the Mid-season Cut looming following Stop No. 5 at Margaret River, as well as provisional Olympic qualification for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Picklum and Carissa Moore (HAW) are now tied for the top position on the world rankings, with Jack Robinson (AUS) also in first. Filipe Toledo (BRA) and Tyler Wright (AUS) are quickly trailing close behind in second and third, respectively.
Australia’s Molly Picklum claimed her first CT win, the best result of her career so far, today at the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach. The 20-year-old was chaired up the beach by two-time World Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) and Brisa Hennessy (CRC), both competitors who she eliminated en route to the Final. With her maiden CT victory, and in only her second year on the elite CT, Picklum is now tied for the No. 1 position on the world rankings with none other than five-time World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW). Picklum will now wear the yellow Leader jersey at Stop No. 3
“It is just a jersey color, but I’m stoked to be on the top because that’s where I want to be, it’s where I feel I believe I can be, and it’s just a jersey color for now because the endgame is Trestles,” said Picklum. “I’m so stoked to take it out and this event is so challenging. I think it’s just never losing your confidence and really believing in yourself the whole way, no matter what it looks like. The level of women’s surfing is insane. You can be on the Challenger Series one year then win a CT event, so I’m definitely proud of myself for just chipping away even though there are so many setbacks. Moments like these make it all worth it.”
Marks’ runner-up finish moves her up from 9th to 5th on the rankings heading into Portugal. The 21-year-old defeated rookie Caitlin Simmers (USA) and sophomore Gabriela Bryan (HAW) in the Quarterfinals and Semifinals, respectively. This was the American’s first time competing at Sunset Beach after missing the first half of the 2022 season due to medical reasons.
Marks’ successful run to the Finals puts her back in both the World Title race and the hunt for Olympic qualification.
“It’s been such a fun week, and I’ve had such an amazing support crew and want to thank everyone,” said Marks. “My best friend came and surprised me, my brother’s here, my other friends are here, and it’s just been so fun. This time last year was way different than where I am this year, so I’m really grateful and so happy.”
The women’s Final showcased progressive surfing as two of the Tour’s younger competitors battled it out for the win. After falling on the first wave of the Final, Picklum quickly regained her composure and posted two mid-range scores by halfway through the heat. But Marks answered back, unleashing her formidable backhand attack to earn a near-excellent 7.50 and put pressure back on Picklum. Under priority, Marks utilized an opportunity to capitalize and took over the lead, forcing Picklum to need a 5.58.
In a flurry of action, Picklum earned a 5.50 and 5.40 to steal the lead from Marks at the 10-minute mark, and left Marks needing a 3.40 as time dwindled.
Newly minted World Champion Filipe Toledo (BRA) is back on top after his win at the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach. Toledo had a strong start at the first stop of the season, finishing in fifth, but his win now makes it clear that he is out to prove that he can defend his World Title in 2023. The 27-year-old now has 13 CT victories to his name and sits at World No. 2 on the rankings heading into Portugal.
“I’m grateful to be here and in the position I am,” said Toledo. “It is special to share cool moments with all these surfers. Hawaii is always one of those places where you want to get better, evolve, and win events, and this means a lot to me.”
The men’s Final witnessed a rematch of the 2022 Surf City El Salvador Pro Final and got underway with fireworks straight out of the gates. A massive exchange between Toledo and Colapinto, showed how powerful their respective forehand attacks can be. Colapinto’s astonishing effort earned a near-perfect 9.17, showing total commitment to a heavy section. Toledo posted a 7.83 for his multiple, powerful maneuvers.
The last two minutes provided a last opportunity for both surfers to showcase their power once. Toledo’s lightning-fast attack earned him a near-perfect 9.47 and pushed the requirement higher. Colapinto’s last attempt fell short, crowning Toledo the event victor.
“It means a lot, I worked super hard for this just training and surfing,” said Toledo. “Last year was fun, and I got what I wanted, which was my Title, and I learned a lot. When it comes to situations like this, I feel like I’m really well-prepared and ready for anything. Griffin Colapinto came out swinging, and I’m just thinking, ‘I’m ready, here we go.’ I knew the right wave would come, it was slow for a lot of the heat, but I could see he was tense having that 9.17. He seemed a little nervous, I don’t know if he was or not, and I stayed calmed and composed and just wait for the wave, then do what I have to do.”
San Clemente’s Colapinto fell shy of his third career CT win, but he will use the momentum heading into the next stop in Portugal, where he is the defending event winner. The 24-year-old is ready for his breakthrough season after failing to make the Final 5 by one place last season. Colapinto proved he’s ready to take on the world’s best after taking down World No. 1 Jack Robinson (AUS) in the Semifinals and Ethan Ewing (AUS) in the Quarterfinals.