Balaram Stack & Molly Picklum Win The Vans Pipe Masters - Stab Mag

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Balaram Stack & Molly Picklum Win The Vans Pipe Masters

Two costly interferences decide the fate of a $100K prize purse.

news // Dec 18, 2022
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Editors note: This post will be updated as new imagery and information emerges.


  • Squally morning, small waves but glorious conditions
  • Sierra Kerr scorches Pua DeSoto on the wave of the day
  • Balaram Stack banks $100,000 on a Kaimana Henry quad
  • Riss Moore burns BettyLou in the final, waves goodbye to $100K with an interference 
  • Molly Picklum capitalizes on said interference, finds a tube and a novelty cheque going straight towards a “house deposit”

Between sleepy blinks, this morning’s conditions were nearly unrecognizable. Ruler-edged, with a light offshore flicker and headhigh swell. A far cry from the sideshore second reefers of the past two days.

Round 2 of the women’s proceeded both Finals, here’s how they went down.

The first two Women’s heats provided very, very minimal opportunity for fireworks. Brief head dips — “conditioner” as Cliff called them — were the only scorable moments. Zoe McDougall found the most opportunities, traveling through a closeout to snag a score just high enough to climb her into the 4th spot.

The uncles didn’t even had time to unpack their beach chairs for Heat three before BettyLou Sakura-Johnson hauled her way through a Backdoor tunnel and took command of the heat.

Tyler Wright pieced together the best combo of the morning effortlessly, a running tube to double lip bash. She then casually chandeliered BettyLou on what would have been the best wave of the heat. Intentional? Makua thought it may have been a tactful interference, D-Graves seemed to think it was innocent.

The moment was followed by a heated paddle battle, with some words exchanged between Caity and Brianna. Love to see the fire. However, both caught closeouts of no consequence, and Caity remained in 3rd place on the leaderboard.

Molly Picklum paddled out and immediately zoomed her way through a right-handed racetrack, with a dramatic first pump which sent her through a double B-Door section. Much is said on commentary about Molly’s tube technique — all agree the Aussie is one of the best behind the aquatic veil.

The swell pulsed for Heat 4, leading to two broken boards and the biggest tubes of the morning.

Peak craziness climaxed when Sierra Kerr unknowingly burned Pua DeSoto — who was definitely too deep — to fly through the wave of the day. The look on her face when she went from pure post-tube ecstasy to realizing that she had faded her friend and was out of the event, was heartbreaking. Gotta feel for everyone here. Pua was gracious and understanding, hugging Sierra with a smile on her face. The ensuing interview with a tattered Sierra was pretty rattling. 

Sierra can sleep well tonight knowing she bagged the two best Backdoor waves of her career thus far. I’m just glad Mahina Florence interviewed her and not Kaipo.


Peak performance: Balaram Stack, Balaram’s Mom board caddying for him

Hit replay: Women’s Heat 4

Best maneuvers:  

  • Molly Picklum’s first wave at the Backdoor.
  • Sierra Kerr’s unintentional 10-point scorching of Pua DeSoto
  • Balaram Stack’s $100,000 pigdog.

One-liners: “The Volcom house is burning down tonight!” – Cliff Kapono

The Men’s final took the water, as a sideshore breeze rose up.

Kaulana Apo started the heat with a backside butt-drag through the rain, while Bruddah Cliff dropped some statistical knowledge on Hawaiian diversity. What a pleasure it has been having his insight in the booth, btw. Griffin decided to go full San Clemente mode, and tagged four to the beach like he was at Lowers — the wave scored only .2 less than Kaulana’s tube.

Griffin continued to ‘build da house’, finding a mini Pipe tube to jump into the lead. Could that be the smallest $100,000 wave ever? With 15 minutes remaining, Joao Chianca started paddle battling everyone.

Balaram looked zen and unflappable. He spiced things up with a tube-shoot to lip smash, which he immediately backed up with the best wave of the Men’s Final — an extended Backdoor tube which caught the rest of the pack inside. After leading the event the entire window, Balaram led the final.

Griff manifested a wave in a last ditch effort to climb into first, but fell on his full rotation effort. 

NYC’s Balaram Stack banks $100,000.

Hard not to be stoked to see Balarams quietly grinning face up there on the winners podium, inviting his ‘Ma’ up to share some of the limelight. Somewhere, in a New York apartment, Young Jeezy’s “Put On” plays loudly. This is his second final Bal has won in the past year, after rinsing Filipe Toledo in a one-wave Lowers heat at Stab Highway.

To the Women’s final — the Carissa, Bettylou, Caity, and Molly fixture began with a barrage of snaps. Interesting to note, all these girls will be on tour next year. Wouldn’t take much of a stretch to imagine this could be the exact semi-final lineup for the WSL’s Pipe Pro event in January.

Caity found a mini-tube on her backhand, finishing with a smooth cutback to end section reentry which had her in first place for the first half of the final. 

Riss Moore stuck to face turns, while BettyLou aimed for the lip. The heat leader changed countless times throughout the heat before Pickles found a BS tube and finished it off with a finner for the highest single wave score of the final. 

Fate was sealed when Riss got an interference on BettyLou – the second interference of the day, halfing her high score and simultaneously swatting her hands away from stealing the hefty prize purse. 

Pickles wins $100K, “I’ll put it towards a house deposit hopefully, and go live the dream somewhere”.

Onya Mol.


Caught behind: Sierra Kerr

The only major disappointment was the squalls, which meant much screen squinting. 

The two decisive interferences, by Sierra and Carissa, is exactly what you would expect to see in a no-priority format. Drama by design, I like it. 



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