It’s no wonder the teenage surfer earned the nickname “the pride of Oceanside.”
Caitlin Simmers, at just 18 years old, showed the surfing world what she was made of during the World Surf League World Tour’s first stop of the 2024 competition season, conquering crashing waves and defying death during the Bombardment of Pipelining the North Shore of Oahu and winning the prestigious Pipe Pro title. She now occupies first place in the ranking.
The Simmers faced Australian Molly Picklum in the final on Saturday, February 10, after winning heat after heat against the best surfers in the world. The women’s Pipeline event was added only a few years ago: the surf break tests athletes’ barrel riding skills.
Simmers, entering her second year on tour, showed no hesitation in the 6- to 8-foot waves, shooting deep into the barrel and sometimes finding herself completely covered by the edge of the wave.
“This wave is terrifying; I respect everyone who wants to participate and everyone who doesn’t because it’s really scary out there,” Simmers said in an interview with the WSL after his victory. “It starts with all the girls who fought against the guys and barely had any waves, and I hope this event showed that girls can do it… I’m really happy to be a part of it.”
Picklum posted a near-perfect score of 9.27 to take the lead, but Simmers found an 8.83 and followed it with a smaller wave to surpass his opponent. Picklum couldn’t find the save score she needed to secure the victory and Simmers took the title.
“Molly is a guru, she’s probably the best girl here in my opinion,” Simmers said of her opponent. “A round here is like months of experience, and getting into a round with your friend is the most fun thing in the world.”
Picklum said being in the water with Simmers was “amazing.”
“I was enjoying every moment and enjoying the rides,” she said. “It’s like a second home here, and I’m grateful to all the locals who really encourage us women to show us around and show us how it’s done.”
The victory was Simmers’ third World Tour victory in his short career. Last year, she had enough wins to qualify for the Final 5 championships at Lower Trestles. Even though she was eliminated in the first rounds, she proved that she was a force.
Simmers, who possesses a blend of progressive and power surfing and a unique, laid-back style, was named WSL “Rookie of the Year.”
On the men’s side, it was an all-Hawaiian match with Barron Mamiya taking on John John Florence – both grew up on the North Shore.
The touring San Clemente surfers — brothers Griffin and Crosby Colapinto, Kade Matson and Cole Houshmand on the men’s side — were eliminated early in the event, as was San Diego surfer Jake Marshall. On the women’s side, San Clemente’s Sawyer Lindblad and San Diego’s Alyssa Spencer tied for ninth place.
In other news that shocked the surfing world, current and two-time world champion Filipe Toledo, a Brazilian who lives in San Clemente, has withdrawn from the remainder of the 2024 season, citing the need for a break for mental health reasons.
“In the past, I’ve been honest about some of my challenges, not only injury-related, but also mental health-related. Competing at the highest level over the past decade has taken a toll on me, and I need a break to recover for the next chapter of my career,” Toledo said in a statement.
“I have so much passion for this sport, but I need time off to fully recover so that I can come back stronger than ever,” he said, stressing that the WSL would grant him a wildcard to start of the 2025 season. “I hope my fans around the world understand this decision and stay with me when I return to the tour next year.”
The WSL supports Toledo’s decision to prioritize its mental and physical health. Jessi Miley-Dyer, WSL Head of Sports, said: “The commitment and dedication involved in competing at the highest level can be all-consuming. »
Toledo is still expected to compete in the Olympics later this year for Brazil.
Surfers will now prepare for the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, also in Hawaii, with a competition window running until February 22.
More information: worldsurfleague.com
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