The Western Australia Margaret River Pro, Stop No. 5 on the World Surf League (WSL) Championship Tour (CT), kicked off today and completed the women’s Opening Round. As the last event before the Mid-Season Cut, the surfers now face a pivotal time in the season that will determine who advances on the CT and who risks relegation to the Challenger Series. Opening day hosted slower conditions in the two-to-four-foot range, seeing a mix of surfers on the bubble sent to the Elimination Round and some mixed results for the top seeds.

World No. 1 Simmers and No. 3 Picklum Advance to Round of 16, No. 2 Defay Goes to Elimination Round for First Time in 2024

Molly Picklum (AUS), currently ranked World No. 3, emerged victorious over her opponents Luana Silva (BRA) and 2024 CT rookie Alyssa Spencer (USA). Despite a low-scoring affair, Picklum’s ability to stay busy and capitalize on scoring opportunities secured her the win. Silva’s defeat sends her to the elimination round, a critical juncture as she currently sits at No. 10, just above the Cut line, making an early exit potentially detrimental to her 2024 CT campaign.

“It was a little bit slow out there, but conditions are so clean, and I’m happy to have made it for sure,” Picklum said. “I had a really strong start to the year, then had to readjust my sails a bit in Portugal and then Bells was a bit of a whirlwind, so it’s good to be over here in the west, chasing different waves and re-setting just to be stoked on surfing again.”

Current World No. 8 Lakey Peterson (USA) defeated World No. 2 Johanne Defay (FRA) and Injury Replacement Sophie McCulloch (AUS) in Heat 2. Peterson noted drawing inspiration from Defay’s impressive season so far, especially as they have similar tenures on the CT. Defay’s third-place finish in the heat puts her in the Elimination Round for the first time this season.

“I got last place at Pipe, so it’s nice to keep that as my throw-away and avoid the elimination round,” Peterson said. The waves were slow out there, which made it pretty scary, so I’m really proud of myself and how I handled it. It was good to come up against Johanne; I’ve been really inspired by her this year. We’ve been on tour for a similar amount of time, so it’s cool to see her having a career-best year this year. I feel like I can be right there winning events as well. I just need to put it together and also have a few chips fall my way. With this size, there are lefts and rights on offer, and it was good to utilize both.”

Heat 3 of the women’s Opening Round witnessed a super tight matchup between current World No. 1 Caitlin Simmers (USA), 2024 CT Rookie Sawyer Lindblad (USA), and Trials Winner Bronte Macaulay (AUS). After a massive lull in conditions saw a heat restart, the heat began to build momentum, starting with Simmers posting back-to-back scores for a mid-range heat total of 11.57, leaving Lindblad and Macualy to battle it out for the second progressing spot. Both surfers had a score in the bank but needed something more to solidify their spot, and they each earned an opportunity with only seconds left, with the Rookie getting the better of the exchange, leaving Macaulay to head to the Elimination Round. Although Simmers took the win, there was just 0.61 of a point separating the three surfers at the end of the heat.

Surfers Below the Cut Eye Big Results Following Opening Heats

The last heat of the day saw two former western Australia Margaret River Pro event winners, Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) (2021) and Isabella Nichols (AUS) (2022), overcome Brisa Hennessy (CRC) in a pivotal matchup. Hennessy has officially made the Cut, but Weston-Webb and Nichols are both on the hunt for solid results here and today, they took a step in the right direction, progressing into the Round of 16 and relegating Hennessy to the Elimination Round. In 2022, Nichols claimed the crucial win in Margaret River to save herself from the Cut and will need to find similar success again in the West to continue her 2024 CT season.

“It’s nice to get a win and go home to sleep knowing you won’t be back in here into one of the first heats of the day potentially,” Nichols said. “This place is very emotionally fuelled for me. I’ve had some of the most incredible experiences here. Obviously, making the Cut with a win was the best day of my life, and last year, not making the cut was heartbreaking. I’m really trying to tap in to the feelings I felt in 2022 and using it as inspiration and hoping I can get those same feelings again. This is genuinely one of my favorite places in the world, I want to live here. The food is great, the waves are fun, and I just want to have a good time, and whatever comes with it, I’m open to it.”

Reigning World Champion Caroline Marks (USA) and Gabriela Bryan (HAW) had a close call in their Opening Round matchup with India Robinson (AUS), with all three surfers holding the lead at different times in the last four minutes with a flurry of waves being surfed as the clock wound down. Robinson left it late to get started but eventually posted the highest single-wave score of the heat but was unable to back it up and will head to the Elimination Round, where she will take on Hennessy and Luana Silva (BRA) and fight for a result here in Margaret River and their spot on the CT.

Aussie veterans Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) and Tyler Wright (AUS) are both in the hunt for a big result in Magaret River as they look to avoid the Mid-season Cut. For Fitzgibbons, it’s her second straight year sitting below the line coming into Stop No. 5. The pair came up against an in-form Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW), who looked most in rhythm with Main Break, running away with the lead and leaving the two New South Wales South Coasters to battle it out for the second progressing spot. Fitzgibbons came back strong at the end of the heat, but it wasn’t enough to get over the line, and she will now set her focus on an Elimination Round matchup with Johanne Defay (FRA) and Bronte Macaulay (AUS)

For highlights from today’s competition at the Western Australia Margaret River Pro, please visit

Western Australia Margaret River Pro Women’s Opening Round Results:
HEAT 1: Molly Picklum (AUS) 11.33 DEF. Alyssa Spencer (USA) 10.66, Luana Silva (BRA) 8.67
HEAT 2: Lakey Peterson (USA) 10.73 DEF. Sophie McCulloch (AUS) 9.60, Johanne Defay (FRA) 9.57
HEAT 3: Caitlin Simmers (USA) 11.57 DEF. Sawyer Lindblad (USA) 11.00, Bronte Macaulay (AUS) 10.96
HEAT 4: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 10.90 DEF. Caroline Marks (USA) 10.67, India Robinson (AUS) 10.37
HEAT 5: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 12.33 DEF. Tyler Wright (AUS) 11.83, Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 11.57
HEAT 6: Isabella Nichols (AUS) 10.34 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 9.56, Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 8.60

Western Australia Margaret River Pro Women’s Elimination Round Matchups:
HEAT 1: Johanne Defay (FRA) vs. Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) vs. Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
HEAT 2: Brisa Hennessy (CRC) vs. Luana Silva (BRA) vs. India Robinson (AUS)

Western Australia Margaret River Pro Men’s Opening Round Matchups:
Heat 1: Barron Mamaiya (HAW), Imaikalani DeVault (HAW), Eli Haneman (HAW)
Heat 2: Jack Robinson (AUS), Gabriel Medina (BRA), Deivid Silva (BRA)
Heat 3: Jake Marshall (USA), Ramzi Boukhiam (MOR), Kelly Slater (USA)
Heat 4: John John Florence (HAW), Ian Gentil (HAW), George Pittar (AUS)
Heat 5: Ethan Ewing (AUS), Kade Matson (USA), Reef Heazlewood (AUS)
Heat 6: Griffin Colapinto (USA), Seth Moniz (HAW), Otis North (AUS)
Heat 7: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Italo Ferreira (BRA), Callum Robson (AUS)
Heat 8: Cole Houshmand (USA), Ryan Callinan (AUS), Caio Ibelli (BRA)
Heat 9: Crosby Colapinto (USA), Yago Dora (BRA), Frederico Morais (POR)
Heat 10: Jordy Smith (RSA), Matthew McGillivray (RSA), Jacob Willcox (AUS)
Heat 11: Rio Waida (IDN), Connor O’Leary (JPN), Samuel Pupo (BRA)
Heat 12: Liam O’Brien (AUS), Leonardo Fioravanti (ITA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)

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