Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) nabbed her second professional victory in just four days after winning the Papara Pro Open Tahiti today, a Men's and Women's QS 1,000, and the Papara Pro Junior on Monday. Johnson took out a fierce field of competitors including runner-up Luana Silva (HAW), who is quickly climbing the competitive ranks, and 2018 Papara Pro Junior winner Leila Riccobuano (HAW), during the Semifinals.
Following Johnson's win, the Men's QS 1,000 got underway and completed the first three heats of Round 1 before it was decided that this competition, and all WSL events in March, be canceled due to the rapidly evolving situation with COVID-19.
The Women's QS completed this morning in clean two-to-three foot conditions at the Papara beach break with Johnson on a rampage since her Pro Junior win just days ago. She posted the two best scores of the entire event, an excellent 9.17 during her Quarterfinal matchup against Erin Brooks (HAW) and a 9.07 in the Final. Her forehand attacks demonstrated power and flow beyond her 14 years of age.
"Today's win is exciting because I was able to surf a man on man heat from the Quarters until the Final, it was fun and I'm super happy," said Johnson. "I wasn't expecting to sweep Papara because this is my first year in Tahiti and I came here to learn more and get more experience."
The Final saw Johnson open up with near-perfection after dropping the 9.07 for a lethal combination of maneuvers on her forehand to set the pace. Silva was quick to fight back and dropped two solid scores, a 6.57 and 5.50, for the lead but it wasn't long before Johnson pulled ahead with a 7.07 backup result. Silva nipped at her heels and increased her scoreline with a 6.77 but Johnson's 16.14 heat total (out of a possible 20) was unparalleled.
"The competition is always going to be hard no matter what, starting from Round 1," Johnson added. "But a win feels good, especially in small waves."
Iconic North Shore surfer turned coach, Ross Williams has worked with Johnson for many years and recognizes her strengths as a surfer is in her power. "She did gymnastics from an early age and it shows, she pushes a lot of water around," said Williams. "She's already surfing like a grown-up, so I'm simply trying to steer her towards her potential."
Johnson has competed in only four WSL events to date, her first competition being the 2019 Sunset Pro Junior where she earned fourth place. In January 2020 she mirrored this result and then went on to storm the fields in Tahiti, along with the regional Pro Junior rankings where she now shares the #1 spot with Riccobuano.
Silva is riding high after a win at the Mothernest Great Lakes Pro QS 1,000 and a fifth-place finish at the Sisstrevolution Central Coast Pro QS 3,000 last month, which saw her build momentum for a powerful close to her Tahiti crusade. The North Shore, Oahu native has been competing for four years now and is steadily increasing her performances and results. With a penchant and understanding of some of the most acclaimed waves in the world, Silva and compatriot Johnson are demonstrations of the talent pool depth emerging from Hawaii.