Meet Molly Picklum, the next big thing in Australian surfing

Then, after falling victim to the tour’s controversial mid-year cut-off, back to the Off-Broadway qualifying tour. Back to the top level for 2023 by November.

And then to Pipeline, the true global maker of boardriding men and women, where she emerged with a final win over five-time world champion and local expert Carissa Moore, a $100,000 prize purse and “the greatest moment of my career to date.” ”

Meanwhile, three-time Grand Slam winner Barty has become an increasingly frequent sounding board for Picklum and a longtime inspiration.

Molly Picklum and Ash Barty at Bells Beach last year.

Molly Picklum and Ash Barty at Bells Beach last year.Credit:Beatrice Ryder

Even if the product from the Central Coast Barty can’t get on a board. And refuses to gamble for money if they play a round of golf.

“Ash is such a legend,” says Picklum. “She inspired me a lot and still does. I chat with her about little things, but I try not to bother her too much.

“Whenever I have time to go to the Gold Coast we play golf but she sweeps the floor with us. She doesn’t want to hear about surfing either, she just shuts down the convo immediately.

Ash Barty at home with Australian surfers Molly Picklum, Bronte Macaulay and Isabella Nichols' rash vests in Portugal.

Ash Barty at home with Australian surfers Molly Picklum, Bronte Macaulay and Isabella Nichols’ rash vests in Portugal.Credit:Instagram

“But the way she just owned her own story and did her own thing on and off the pitch and just stuck with what she thought was right regardless of the outside factors, she was my inspiration for a long time .”

Asked by WSL to wear the name of a female influence when they took to the water on International Women’s Day in Portugal last year, Picklum and fellow Australians Bronte Macaulay and Isabella Nichols opted for Barty on their back.

“And then she hung them up in her new house,” Picklum laughs. “It was a little pinch-yourself moment.”

If camaraderie with Barty is cause for a pinch, then claiming pipeline honors is a five-fingered slap in the face.

In no small part because Picklum endured similar treatment for weeks from the infamous hiatus that led to her upset win, and became the first non-Hawaiian winner in her Banzai backyard.

She rightly acknowledges that Moore jagged the best wave of the event when Pipeline heaved to 12ft early and that a sudden wind shift played into her hands as she found herself in 4-6ft waves a few days later prevailed in the final.

But this is surfing, and Picklum deserves her luck.

“Oh, the amount of wipes and punches I had to take just to get comfortable out there is just stupid,” she says after spotting one of Pipeline’s underwater caves up close.

“I didn’t even know surfing helmets existed until I came to Hawaii, but I got one pretty quickly.

Molly Picklum in the eye of a pipeline storm.

Molly Picklum in the eye of a pipeline storm.Credit:Tony Heff

“There are some holes and folds out there in the reef and there was one of the double up waves that got me pinned down. It wasn’t like a full blown den and my leash didn’t get wrapped or anything.

“But underwater you suddenly feel claustrophobic, surrounded by rocks and unable to get back up straight away.”

Now that the 2023 Tour begins again in the same waters, Picklum is chasing the world’s best and another inspiration, eight-time defending champion Steph Gilmore.

“As far as surfing goes, I feel like I’m up there with the best in the world,” says Picklum.

“It’s the rest and how you change when you compete against your idols. I could qualify for the Olympics, or I could get banned from the tour again if it goes the other way. It definitely excites me.”

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Ryan Sederquist

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