This NSW surfer has tackled a “people dying” pipeline in Hawaii that’s considered one of the best in the world

An infamous and deadly surf break on the island of Hawaii sees the world’s best surfers gather this week to kick off the 2023 World Surf League Championship Tour.

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At just 20 years old, professional surfer Molly Picklum is from the NSW Central Coast is one of them.

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The Pipeline event is another opportunity for the youngster to make their mark on the tour after winning the Vans Pipe Masters invitation-only event on the same beach late last year.

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Picklum has been described as “leading the next generation of surfers”.

The rising star is also being touted as a contender to qualify for the Olympics – alongside the top eight women in the world WSL Championship Tour entitled to a seat at the 2024 Games hosted by France.

Thirty-six men and 18 women will compete on the world tour, with the finals being held in Southern California in September.

Picklum will join six other Australian surfing legends on the tour, including former world champions Stephanie Gilmore and Tyler Wright.

Picklum said that winning the Olympic spots is a big motivator.

“I would definitely love a gold medal, but I know there’s a process,” she said.

“I feel like my skills can get me there, but let’s see how the year unfolds a bit.”

Retired pro surfer Amee Donohoe said that picklum, who started surfing on the Central Coast when she was three years old, has a lot going for this tour.

“Molly is a contender for the Olympic team at the moment depending on how she’s touring this year,” she said.

“She’s definitely leading the next generation of surfers to get through.”

Ms Donohoe said Picklum’s win at last year’s Vans Pipe Masters cemented her place as one of the top women surfers in the world. She was the first non-Hawaiian to win the event.

“She will go down in history forever for that,” she said.

“People are dying on the pipeline. That is a reality.”

“When you jump into a wave this size, it’s a split-second mistake that can mean the difference between getting the ride of your life or ending your life.”

Picklum’s local surf spot is at Shelly Beach on the NSW Central Coast.

The beach is soon set to host a new women’s surfing event aimed at nurturing and encouraging younger female surfers.

Tahlia Hirst is among young locals preparing for Surfing NSW’s Challenge Her Team Classic in Shelly Beach in March.

She said athletes like Picklum are an inspiration.

“It’s so good for us younger girls to see that it’s possible and that girls from these beaches have made it and made it onto the world stage,” she said.

“It’s just really good to have that to look up to.”

The WSL Championship Tour kicks off January 30th local time at the world famous Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii.


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