Molly Picklum is lifted to the podium after winning the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach in Hawaii.
© Tony Heff/World Surf League

Molly Picklum breaks down her incredible first WSL Championship Tour win

After claiming the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach on Oahu's North Shore, Molly Picklum moved to number one in the world. We caught up with the Aussie surfer to reflect on a remarkable win.
By Chris Binns
6 min readPublished on
From the moment she woke up, Molly Picklum pictured herself hoisting the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach trophy. Twelve hours later the job was done when she beat Caroline Marks in the final after accounting for Brisa Hennessy and Tyler Wright in the quarters and semis respectively.
By finishing fifth at the season-opening Billabong Pipeline Pro and with her maiden WSL Championship Tour win under her belt, Picklum finds herself ranked first in the world alongside five-time world champion Carissa Moore. However, that fact seemed of little interest to the focused young Aussie.
Molly Picklum rides the tube at the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach in Hawaii on February 19, 2023.

Molly flew through the Sunset Bowl and straight onto the podium

© Brent Bielmann/World Surf League

We were lucky enough to steal a quick few minutes of Picklum's time in the back seat of a car as it whisked her from the podium to her victory dinner at the North Shore's favorite restaurant, Lei Lei's. Buzzing, but with thoughts already starting to turn to the next event, this is Picklum at her candid best, flushed with success, but knowing bigger things are still to come. Enjoy.

Molly, first off, congratulations!

Molly Picklum: Thank you.

How long is it going to take for your first CT win to sink in?

I don’t know. I obviously haven’t done this before, but I really hope I do let it sink in before I move on because this is really fun.

Have you checked your phone? How many messages does a CT win get you?

Too many for my little brain to handle. I haven’t looked at my phone yet because I’m leaving tomorrow and there are things to do before then. I haven’t even spoken to my dad yet.

Molly Picklum talks to Kaipo Guerrero after winning the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach in Hawaii on February 19, 2023.

"Let's go!" Picklum's reaction to being told she's world number one

© Tony Heff/World Surf League

On stage you were told that you’re now ranked number one, tied with Carissa. You didn’t seem fazed one bit. Are you where you feel you deserve to be right now?

For sure. I feel like I’ve got myself to a point where I can thrive, so it’s all exciting to me. My eyes are opened now, like, 'OK, this world tour thing is on. You’ve won one event, let’s just keep winning'. It’s fuel for the fire, it doesn’t feel like a relief, it feels like go time.

What was going through your mind before the event?

It started from the moment I woke up, at ten-to-six, before my alarm. Finals day you’re always thinking about the end. You’ve got a taste for it because you’ve made the finals and that’s already special. From there you’re just thinking of what you need to do to still be standing at the end, and you focus on the process of getting there.

Coming into the final you must have felt confident, what was your plan of attack?

Throughout the day we’d been watching the wide peak, where Caroline got her 7.5, but those waves were few and far between, so I just wanted to keep moving and let my surfing do the talking.

Glenn Hall and Molly Picklum talk tactics at the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach in Hawaii on February 19, 2023.

Hall and Picklum: the master and the apprentice

© Brent Bielmann/World Surf League

What has your coach Glenn Hall said to you since the final?

Take it in. Enjoy the here and now, so you can accept it and move on. I feel like if you don’t absorb your win it can chase you later, and affect how you prepare for the next event.

Brisa and Tyler lifted you up on the beach. You talk a lot about wanting to be a good human above everything else, so to have two women you beat still want to do that for you must be vindication that you’re going about things the right way.

I think at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about. Tyler and Brisa are two really good friends of mine and on tour we travel together year-round, so we become friends and family. I’m super honored if that’s the image that’s being portrayed because I do put a lot of effort into putting my best human foot forward before my best athlete foot. I think that’s really important.

There’s a lot to be learned from your losses, and you can grow from them

Talk us through how far you’ve come since this time last year?

Oh wow, we’d need hours for this. It’s night and day, I feel like the belief is real now, more than a fake-it-till-you-make-it kind of a deal. That question leaves me a little speechless, I’ve done a lot of growing, so rapidly, that now I’m just holding on for the ride. In all honesty, I feel way more mature, from a competitive and athlete standpoint, and so much more comfortable in my own skin.

Molly Picklum and Macy Callaghan at the WSL Awards Night.

Molly Picklum and Macy Callaghan are the pride of the Central Coast

© Brent Bielmann/World Surf League

One day, do you think you’ll look back at falling off tour as one of the best things to ever happen to you?

It was really difficult because this is really where I want to be and what I want to do. Looking back I’m just happy that I didn’t let such a big challenge get me down. I wouldn’t say it’s the best thing to ever happen to me, but it’ll be an experience that I can draw on for the rest of my life, because it put me in such a tough situation, and I had to fight back.

Do you think learning to lose helped you learn to win?

This is a tricky one because if you get comfortable learning to lose then do you really want to win? But I feel like there’s a lot to be learned from your losses, and you can grow from them.

Molly Picklum surfing at the Billabong Pro Pipeline in Hawaii.

Molly Picklum perfectly poised at Pipeline

© Brent Bielmann/World Surf League

Tell us about your love affair with Hawaii?

It’s growing. It’s blossoming.

You’ve made it very clear you want to go and put in your time there, whereas some of your competitors might not want to or just don’t.

I think when something is so scary I just want to go and grab it by the throat and throw myself in the deep end. Hawaii was a lot like that, and it’s a huge part of anyone’s surfing career, so what better way to address it than get over here as much as possible and face it front on?

What’s the plan before the next event?

I changed my flight, so I leave tomorrow morning to maximize my time at home before Portugal. It’s a key thing for me to get home and have a physical reset, which will have me more prepared than ever for Portugal. I’m definitely going home, and I’m definitely excited about it.

Molly Picklum and Filipe Toledo on the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach podium in Hawaii on February 19, 2023.

Molly Picklum and Filipe Toledo – the Sunset Beach champions for 2023

© Tony Heff/World Surf League

You’re off to Lei Lei’s to celebrate with your team first though. Ribs or ahi steak?

Haha! I had the ahi last night and it was so good that I’m going to do it again. Why change a winning recipe?

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Molly Picklum

A natural athlete with an enormous amount of potential, Molly Picklum might just be Australian surfing’s next big thing.

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