- WSL / Brent Bielmann

Blitzing through a heavy, high-pressure day at the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach, the women's Semifinalists are locked in and the next generation has arrived. The morning started with the Opening Round and by the time the Quarterfinals rolled around in the afternoon all of the former World Champs had been eliminated while six of the eight surfers left standing were were rookies.

When the action resumes, Semi One will feature a battle against surfers from Hawaii Malia Manuel and young protégé Gabriela Bryan. Semi Two will see Costa Rica's Brisa Hennessy up against North Shore rookie Bettylou Sakura Johnson.

A long day of hard-fought surfing, the first Quarterfinal featured a duel be veterans Malia Manuel and Johanne Defay. Rekindling the joy and magic in her surfing that she was feeling back in Mexico at the end of the 2021 Championship Tour season, Manuel put herself on the right waves, chose the right lines, and in the end, came out with a ticket to the Semis.

Gabriela Bryan In only her second event as a full-time Championship Tour competitor, Hawaii's Gabriela Bryan is into the Semifinals of the Hurley Pro Sunset Beach. - WSL / Brent Bielmann

"It's been a huge day, one of the biggest days in competitive surfing for the women," Manuel said after the heat. "This is exactly what I wanted, a Semifinal in Hawaii to start the season."

The second Quarter was a showcase of Hawaii's new, young talent as rookies Gabriela Bryan and Luana Silva went toe to toe in a brilliant back-and-forth. Both leaned into their comfort in the North Shore power, trading 8-point rides. In the end, Bryan got the win over one of her best friends on Tour.

"This morning doesn't even feel like the same day," said Bryan who surfed in every heat of the day.

Malia Manuel Malia Manuel grace in the midst of a heavy bowl at Sunset. - WSL / Brent Bielmann

Up next was Hennessy versus Aussie rookie and Rip Curl teammate Molly Picklum. Hennessy has quietly been one of the most in-form surfers of the event and kept her roll going despite a valiant effort from Picklum. Coping a few beatings during the heat, Hennessy laughed, "I felt like a boogie board out there.

The last heat of the day was a rookie battle featuring 16-year-old Sakura Johnson and Aussie India Robinson. Once again, local knowledge paid off huge with Sakura Johnson's positioning and ability to read the lineup.

In the Round of 16, all three former World Champs were dispatched. First it was Mauel beating Tyler Wright. Then Bryan stunned Stephanie Gilmore. Finally, it was Picklum knocking out Carissa Moore.

Finals Day is set and the rookie are roaring! Will the two remaining veterans in the draw be able to stop them from making history in Hawaii? Keep it locked right here to find out.

Bettylou Sakura Johnson Rookie Bettylou Sakura Johnson inspiring the next generation of young surf fan. - WSL / Tony Heff

Read More

World Surf League
Download it for free on the App store. Download it for free on Google Play.