This Girl Will Win A World Title One Day - Stab Mag

This Girl Will Win A World Title One Day

Dinner and a film with Bettylou Sakura Johnson.

cinema // Dec 11, 2020
Words by Esther Hershkovits
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Bettylou Sakura Johnson will be a World Champion one day. 

Bold claim, I know, but have you seen the 15-year-old Oahu-native surf? She’s ferocious on the rail, has a refined style, and thanks to a recent two-month stint in Indo, she’s earned some rapidly ascending tube chops (the likes of which have been praised by surfing’s top tier, including Bethany Hamilton, Lisa Andersen, Makua Rothman, and Shane Dorian). 

Despite her age, Bettylou surfs like a full-grown woman. Her turns carry immense weight, as seen in the video above from our pal Ryan Williams in Bali, and these Haleiwa clips from last season. 

All of which will serve Bettylou well next week in her first-ever CT appearance at Honolua Bay. While honing her craft in Indo, Bettylou was informed by the WSL that she’d be receiving a wildcard into the first event of the 2021 season. Based on her skill set and support team—including none other than JJF’s coach, Ross Williams—BSJ is primed to cause some upsets (Riss, Steph, etc. you’ve been warned). 

I gave Bettylou a call to hear all about her Indo trip and the upcoming CT.

Stab: I just want to start off by saying congrats on the Honolua wildcard, you must be excited.
Bettylou Sakura Johnson: Thanks, yeah I’m very excited.

So where were you when you got the news? How did you react?
I was super surprised. We were actually in Indonesia when we heard about the news and we decided to come home right away.

This is your first CT contest, right? Is it a goal for you to qualify?
Yeah, if I were to get on the tour pretty young it would be amazing, and the goal is definitely to get there, but there’s no rush.

So tell me more about that trip to Indo—you were there for a while, right?
I was there for two months, which is pretty long but amazing. The waves are just perfect and to get it that good, especially during COVID, was just really lucky.

Yeah, I saw you on some heavy ones. What would you say was your most memorable moment of the trip?
Probably just surfing out there in the Ments with all of us girls [Kirra PinkertonIzzi GomezBella KenworthyCaitlin SimmersErin BrooksSierra KerrBela Nalu and Luana Silva]. Because we’re all pretty young and charging big waves and it’s pretty awesome to see. And we’re always encouraging each other to charge and go on bigger waves. 

I love traveling and adventuring and finding new places and the waves there were just really perfect. I mean home is still really good, but Indo is just perfect.

You got some pretty nice waves at home in Oahu though. I’ve seen you surfing at Backdoor—how is that?
It’s fun, if you can get a good wave. I mean I guess it’s just hard because I’m usually the only girl. Pipe, Off The Wall, and Backdoor—that’s ideal for boys. I think that just makes it hard for a girl to get waves. Because, nowadays we can’t really pull the girl card.

What’s the girl card?
The girl card is like going up to the peak and thinking they’ll give you some waves. Yeah, it’s not really like that. You just have to scavenge and get your own waves. 

So how is that compared to the environment you had with the girls in Indo—which one motivates you more?
I like both, but I feel like if I’m surfing with boys you just want to show them, “I can do this too, I’m not just a girl, I can do it too.” But when I’m with the girls we’re all kind and we share waves.

Would you want to compete at Pipe, or are you happy to be at Honolua?
Both, yeah, Pipe can get super scary and it’s awesome to see boys charge there. I don’t think most girls can do that, but having it separated is nice. Honolua is literally a perfect right-hander, so I can’t really complain since I’m regular.

Yeah, what about the waves today (December 2nd)? You guys got that big swell, did you get out there?
Yeah, I surfed Honolua and it was really fun—just extremely crowded as usual. It was like 8-10 on solid sets. So, it was pretty good but there was a lot of water moving and a lot of things going on.

What are you riding? 
Slater Designs, they’ve been amazing and they feel really good under my feet. But today I rode 5’9” Tokoro Slater Designs. So it’s a mix of Tokoro shaping and Slater Designs Blank. And I have a 6’0 with me in case it decides to pick up. Then I have two 5’7 and two 5’5’s.

Anything else you want to add?
I just want to say I’m super grateful to have really good opportunities so far and thanks to everyone for their support and love. And special thanks to my parents of course.

Well I’m really excited for you, so get it girl. I’m rooting for ya over here. 
Thanks, I’m looking forward to it. 


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