The Worst Day Of Competitive Surfing (So Far) In 2023 - Stab Mag

The Worst Day Of Competitive Surfing (So Far) In 2023

With 2-point heat wins and 30-minute lulls, Day 3 of the Billabong Pro Pipeline was pretty grim.

features // Feb 7, 2023
Words by Holden Trnka
Reading Time: 4 minutes

To start today, a Brazillian Spy balloon took out the English broadcast, so I was left watching Lakey Peterson and Brisa Hennessey waiting for nearly non-existent sets in Portuguese.

No matter. All it meant was I didn’t have to hear the words “Apple Watch”  every third sentence.

The waves were 2-foot and lully, so instead of waiting for the swell to fill in the next few days, the WSL decided to run the Women — probably in hopes of still having a bit of juice left over for finals. 

Pretty brutal call.


  • Maybe 12 waves ridden all day.
  • The women get the worst of the conditions, again.
  • Tyler Wright bends water and conjures the only decent waves of the afternoon for a 12-point heat total.
  • Bettylou Sakura Johnson wins her heat with two closeouts, two points, and a broken board


Peak performance:  Tyler Wright

Hit replay: Don’t

Monster maneuvers:

  • Tyler’s 6.5 diamond in the rough.

One-liners: “Kekoa Bacalso probably had the quickest hips in the business when he was on tour…is that weird?” – Joe Turpel

Tyler on the one (the only one). Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League

They managed to get the English broadcast up and running just in time to watch Lakey Peterson find a head dip for a 4 — a wave which ended up being enough to see her past Brisa Hennessey.

Though her surfing hardly looks out of the ordinary, Lakey’s mindset looks on point. No complaints in her post-heat interview, despite the brutal conditions and the fact that she had a bunch of her surf gear stolen from her car a few nights ago.

After letting Tatiana Weston-Webb roll over the falls on the first wave, Tyler Wright controlled her entire heat against the Brazillian, summoning the only two fun-looking Backdoor corner cones of the day for an 11-point combo. Tati hardly caught a wave.

In QF 3, Molly Picklum literally paddled circles around Carissa without either of them surfing a wave for the first half of the heat. Then, when Carissa finally paddled for a wave, Mols flipped around underneath her and went. Granted, it was a closeout, but it showed Molly’s inner-mongrel, and maybe earned some real estate in the champs head — Carissa uncharacteristically fell on her next wave.

Carissa making it work. Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League

With six minutes ticking on the smartclocks, it looked as though both competitors might end the heat with 1-point apiece. Then, a seemingly child-sized closeout rolled into the lineup, Molly let it go with priority. Carissa pumped her heart out for a head-dip, 4-points, and enough to fend off the GenZ onslaught. 

Keep hassling though Pickles — we back it.

Bettylou Sakura Johnson (the chosen one) paddled out and immediately reminded us that surfing is a contact sport, nudging Gabriela Bryan just a bit too deep on the best Backdoor wave of the afternoon. Then, neither of them made a wave and Bettylou advanced with a broken board and a 2 point total.

The hopelessness of the day was perfectly encapsulated as Kaipo asked dramatically… “could a closeout barrel be worth the 1.53 that she needs???”

Atleast Bettylou made her heat. Photo by Tony Heff/World Surf League


Caught behind: Tatiana Weston-Webb, blinded by goofy-itis

Blind Mice: Whoever decided to run the women in awful conditions again.

Say what?: “We’ve got Carissa, who’s the GOAT, and obviously Steph, who’s the other GOAT.” – Ross Williams

The entire commentary team repeatedly called the waves “tricky”. Truth is, they weren’t tricky, they were just mostly non-existent. You know it’s slow when Kaipo repeatedly notes the “energy on the horizon” with 18 minutes left in the heat. Three or four scorable waves in 30 minutes was an exciting heat on the day, while one was standard

With at least a little bit more swell on the forecast tomorrow, one can’t help but wonder if the women got unfairly dealt the short-straw here. They surfed in the worst of the conditions on the last pulse, and it looks like they’ve been given the same for this round of heats.

Calling a contest with a forecast like this is a thankless job, but why not knock out some men’s heats today instead? It would split the frustration of the grindy conditions, and allow the women to at least catch some waves when the swell is actually pulsing tomorrow

The best wave of Bettylou’s heat (she’s in there somewhere…)

Gamble Ramble:

We might need to turn our next Stab meeting into an intervention for Mikey C. His habits are becoming worrisome — albeit profitable.

Women’s quarters:
$200 on Carissa Moore at -165 (to win $121) WON
$100 on BLSJ at -150 (to win $67) WON
$10 on Brisa Hennessy at +110 (to win $11) LOST

Day 3 total: $178
Event total: $320

Men’s R3 picks

$50 on Callum Robson at -120 (to win $42)
$20 on Seth Moniz at -110 (to win $19)
$20 on Joao Chianca at -130 (to win $15)
$70 on Carlos Muñoz at +250 (to win $175)
$120 on Liam O’Brien at +215 (to win $258)
$20 on Leo Fioravanti at +150 (to win $30)
$20 on Nat Young at +185 (to win $37)
$20 on Ian Gentil at +340 (to win $68)
$100 on Connor O’Leary at -140 (to win $71)
$100 on Ryan Callinan at -110 (to win $90)


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