Surfing; Molly Picklum and Tyler Wright begin Pipeline event in style

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Australian two-time world champion Tyler Wright made the perfect start to her quest for a second Pipeline title in Hawaii as the women finally got in the water after days of waiting.

Breakthrough star Molly Picklum also picked up an opening heat win, recording the best score of the day, as she plots a path for more than just a world title in 2024.

The duo joined veteran Sally Fitzgibbons, who was elevated back to the World Surf League main tour after eight-time world champ Steph Gilmore announced she was taking a year off, in the Round of 16 after she finished second in her heat, relegating defending champ Carissa Moore to last.

With a gold medal at the Paris Olympics in her sights, 21-year-old Picklum said 2024 loomed as a massive year for her and she wanted to get off to a positive start.

“This year I’m definitely focused on the world title, (and) the gold medal at the Olympics is in there,” she said.

“And just all in all having fun and showcasing my surfing.”

Wright, who was runner-up in a narrow finish at Pipeline in 2023, having won the title in 2020, said that experience was helping her this time around.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever feel a sense of confidence out here,” Wright said.

“But I really value going out there and sitting in the ocean, looking at my markers and feeling how the ocean is moving and the energy in it. It gives you a lot of feedback and when you’re in a heat you already have an established relationship with what the line-up is doing. I’ve put a lot of energy in the pre-season and I really want to focus on doing my best.”

Ethan Ewing is the only Australian left in the men’s event after defending champion Jack Robinson’s shock defeat in the round of 32.