BANZAI PIPELINE, Oahu, Hawaii, USA (Monday, February 6, 2023) - The women’s Semifinalists have been decided at the 2023 Billabong Pro Pipeline, the first stop on the World Surf League (WSL) 2023 Championship Tour (CT), at the world-renowned Banzai Pipeline on the North Shore of Oahu. 

Today's heats saw the women deliver moments of brilliance while navigating challenging conditions. The stage is now set for world-class matchups to complete the Billabong Pro Pipeline.

Tour veteran Lakey Peterson (USA) clinched the first spot in the Semifinals with her heat win over Final 5 competitor Brisa Hennessy (CRC). Peterson started the matchup with a quick Backdoor barrel, finishing the wave with a solid maneuver to earn a 4.33 (out of a possible 10). Hennessy looked to capitalize on her powerful forehand turns but was not able to accrue a score of significance. This will be Peterson’s second consecutive Semifinal finish at Pipeline, as she made the Semis last year but was eliminated by Carissa Moore (HAW). She now hopes to go all the way to the Finals and earn the first event win of the season here at the Billabong Pro Pipeline. 
 

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“Obviously, it was tricky out there,” said Peterson. “Shane [Dorian] was just trying to help me identify the really good ones to go on and also realizing it’s very possible to win a heat with a 1 and a 5, and I ended up just getting a little better than that. Just had to make sure I took enough chances, especially after I got my 4.33 I knew I needed a backup to make Brisa (Hennessy) need a little bit more.” 

Two-time World Champion Tyler Wright (AUS) also made it through her Quarterfinal match against Final 5 competitor Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA). Wright successfully rode two Backdoor barrels, earning a 5.17 and 6.50. Weston-Webb struggled to find a scoring wave, finishing the heat with only a 0.73 and 0.43. Wright is now set to make her second-consecutive Semifinal appearance at Pipeline. 

 

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“It was a pretty straightforward plan, nothing too complicated today and I think it went well,” said Wright. “There were a couple of options, it’s a bit slow, and I knew Tatiana (Weston-Webb) was going to go for the lefts so I thought I’d play to my strengths and go for the rights. I’ve been working hard this offseason, staying in my process, and I think it’s harder than people think to do that. That’s where my underlying values are at this season and what I’m trying to do this year, just staying connected and present in my heats."

Five-time World Champion Carissa Moore (HAW) will make her third consecutive appearance in the Semifinals here at Pipeline after her win over event stand-out Molly Picklum (AUS). Picklum started things off with a heroic late drop into a Pipeline barrel, but the wave closed out on her. Moore held her ground for the majority of the heat, and her patience paid off. With five minutes left, she found a Backdoor barrel to earn a 4.67 and take the heat win. 

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“Honestly, I was just under priority, there wasn’t much, it kind of looked clean, and Molly wasn't looking at it,” said Moore. “I just gave it a shot knowing there was nothing to lose. All the women are surfing so well, and Molly, on the first day, was the in-form surfer of the event, so I knew I had a challenging matchup. I think it’s just about focusing on what’s right in front of you because you never know what you’re going to get out here.”

Despite breaking her board, Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) was able to hold onto a clutch Quarterfinal victory against 2022 Rookie of the Year Gabriela Bryan (HAW). Sakura Johnson’s resurgence to the CT is showing she belongs among the world’s best once again. She will now have to take on fellow Hawaiian and five-time WSL Champion Moore in the Semifinals. 

“The strategy was to at least get two scorable waves,” said Sakura Johnson. “But that didn’t happen, and we had to make do with what we had out there, and I’m really happy to squeeze by. When I broke my board and got in on the ski, my mom told me to smile and breathe and just hold onto that little positive thread out there, so that's what I did.”

With the conditions deteriorating, the WSL Tours and Competition team called the event off for the day and will await improved conditions to run the women’s Semifinals and Finals. 

 

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“It's really slow, so we’re going to come back tomorrow and see what we get,” said WSL Chief of Sport, Jessi Miley-Dyer. “This afternoon, I’m certain there’s going to be a moment when it looks really good late this afternoon. We were hoping it would be here by now to where we’d see more consistency and more size, but it’s just not here. It does look good for tomorrow, and we could be finishing by Wednesday if the wind permits.”

Billabong Pro Pipeline Women's Quarterfinal Results:
HEAT 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) 6.83 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 4.87
HEAT 2: Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.67 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 1.16
HEAT 3: Carissa Moore (HAW) 6.10 DEF. Molly Picklum (AUS) 1.33
HEAT 4: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 2.20 DEF. Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 1.77

Billabong Pro Pipeline Women's Semifinals Matchups:
HEAT 1: Lakey Peterson (USA) vs. Tyler Wright (AUS)
HEAT 2: Carissa Moore (HAW) vs. Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW)

 

Top Photo: Tony Heff/WSL

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