In Molly Picklum: What It Takes, we get inside the mind of the 20-year-old from New South Wales’ Central Coast as she navigates a tumultuous rookie year on tour. Fresh off the peak of qualifying, Molly traveled to Hawaii and drew the world’s attention with her performances on Pipe and Sunset, but despite many highlights, things looked decidedly dicey when the cut came into play at Margaret River mid-year.
I had to hit rock bottom to learn to take it easy, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
While most find the demotion to the Challenger series a kick in the face, Molly turned it into the kick in the butt she needed to launch her career. It wasn’t easy at first, and we get up close and personal with Molly’s most insecure moments, but with trainer Glenn Hall, her sounding board and mentor, we see the wheel slowly turning. Molly’s darkest days in South Africa led to a turning point of letting go and success soon followed with a big win at Ballito that put her squarely back on the road to an eventual re-qualification in Brazil, as she details below.
“I didn’t get the result I wanted at the Brazil event,” says Molly, “but I’m still glad I went. I regrouped and found that there was great weather, fun waves, beach tennis and a really fun crew around me, so I decided to make the most of it. It’s also a tour stop, so every bit of practice counts. Best of all, my spot on the 2023 Championship Tour was sealed while I was there, so afterwards I knew I could go to Hawaii with no pressure. It was almost a holiday in that sense, not that you would ever call it that!
“After Brazil, I came home for a very short five days and then went to Hawaii for one of the most memorable trips of my life. I ended up just concentrating on surfing and not on the competitions. I felt good in Haleiwa but never found good waves in my heats. I was completely out of sync with the sets in my semifinals and was eliminated, but it was still great to do the reps. Then to be there and see Sophie McCulloch qualify by winning the event was crazy! She came from so far back that at the start of the day we didn’t even know she had a chance. Every Aussie there was running down the beach screaming in disbelief, she came out of nowhere and boom! This is Hollywood, the stuff dreams are made of. Sophie’s qualification seemed a lot sweeter than mine, although mine was a lot less stressful, that’s for sure.
“A week after my trip, I received a text message saying there was a place for me at the Pipe Masters. I had gone to Hawaii early on to train and then planned to come home after a big year to cruise and recuperate. However, when the invite landed it was non-negotiable and I changed my flights locally! Pipe was originally supposed to be three hour-long runs, which is so much time to practice out there, but the conditions meant it didn’t run until the very end of the period, so things changed a bit.
I just surfed to practice pipe, read the riff and learn more about the wave. I wanted to try and enjoy it, which I really did. I felt like I felt a lot more comfortable out there and all in all I’m glad I accepted the invitation because it worked out really well and I got the win in the end!”
“All the girls knew it was a good opportunity to push women surfing forward as a collective. Everyone shitted themselves on the big day, but we had to push it and dig deep. Going out there and putting on a brave face would have gone a long way without even catching any waves, but once we paddled out, then swallow and go, I think every female surfer grew from that.”
“Carissa Moore’s incredible wave was the turning point. She was in the first heat and most of us were just thinking about self preservation and trying to ride waves without dying, then she understood that and it meant we all suddenly went out there and tried to meet. It changed everything. What a statement for Carissa. She’s put in a lot of time, she’s really good out there and that was a really historic moment in surfing and I think every woman that’s been out there has gained ten times more confidence in pipe as a result of this event.”
“It’s fair to say that 2022 was a wild ride. I’ve had some of my deepest lows and highest highs. It’s a cliché, but it’s true and I wouldn’t change a thing. I feel like everything that happened had a reason and brought me to where I am today. I’m pretty excited to keep giving this whole surfing thing a big bang.
“My goals don’t change much, I just want to see how good I can become. I want to chase world titles and I think they’re on my radar if things go my way. I need to get my foot in the door, keep going where I’m going, and see what comes of it. 23 is the Olympic qualifying year and every surfer on the tour wants to make it, as do they want to win all the events and titles, but all I can control is what’s given to me.
“I’m driven, that’s not a problem and obviously I want to get in the last five at Trestles and have a good blast, but overall my main goal is just to give everything I can at the moment I get. If I do that then I’m happy and the rest will follow from there.”
“I am now in Hawaii for the first event of the new season. I’m not keen on making a statement or anything, I’m more excited that I’m comfortable and in a groove and ready to start my year in style. I feel like I’ve set myself up really well and that’s the most important thing.”
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