Molly Picklum’s belief never wavered when things didn’t go her way in her rookie year on tour in 2022, and now the rising Australian star is on top of the world.
The 20-year-old has joined compatriot Jack Robinson at No.1 on the world rankings after breaking through for her maiden World Surf League title at Sunset Beach in Hawaii.
Picklum, from Shelly Beach on the NSW Central Coast, powered past two world champions in Carissa Moore and fellow Aussie Tyler Wright to make her first final where she took down American Caroline Marks to secure the Hurley Pro.
Victory propelled Picklum, in her just her second season on tour, to equal world No.1 with five-time world champion Moore, putting Australians on top of both the women’s and men’s rankings after the opening two events of the season.
It’s a long way from missing the inaugural mid-season cut in her first season on tour, and even with water still up her nose after winning the final surfing six-foot barrels, she was incredibly proud of herself.
“I’m pretty baffled, It was pretty slow and then a big flurry of waves at the end and I’ve got so much water up my nose and in my sinuses I can hardly see straight. I’m super stoked. This event is so challenging,” Picklum said.
“It’s just never losing your confidence and really believing in yourself the whole way, no matter what it looks like. Even on the Challenger (Series), the level of surfing in this day and age for the women, you can be on the Challenger and the next day winning an event.
“I’m proud of myself for just chipping away even though there’s so many setbacks, emotions and mind games in it all. I’m super happy and moments like these make it all worth it.”
Picklum said the No.1 ranking, which comes with a yellow jersey, was “where I want to be”, especially come the end-of-year finals at Trestles in California.
“It is just a jersey colour but I’m stoked about the top because it’s honestly where I want to be and where I believe I can be, “ she said.
“The end goal is to be at Trestles, so hopefully I am wearing it all this year.”
Picklum took charge from the start of the 35-minute final in big surf in Oahu but lost the lead after Marks scored a 7.50 on her first wave.
But after stealing back ascendancy with a series of small-scoring waves, Picklum rode out the final minutes with few waves caught between the pair to seize her win.
“I’m fortunate at home we get waves like this. I’m from Shelly Beach and we have big, open ocean water and it kind of feels like home out there,” Picklum said.
“I feel like the rawness and challenging part of Sunset I enjoy, and while others are struggling I can give it a good crack.”
Robinson fell short of repeating his winning effort at the Banzai Pipeline to start the season, bowing out in the semi-finals to American Griffin Colapinto.
But Colapinto was defeated by Brazil’s Filipe Toledo in the final.