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Women’s Semifinalists Decided at Surf City El Salvador Pro

Bettylou Sakura Johnson Overpowers World No. 1 Brisa Hennessy, Yellow Leader’s Jersey Changes Hands; Caroline Marks Handles the Pressure While Caitlin Simmers Surges Back into Finals Day

10/Jun/2024 - WSL

PUNTA ROCA, La Libertad, El Salvador (Saturday, June 8, 2024) - A short, but heavily-implicated day of competition got underway at the Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona, Stop No. 7 on the World Surf League (WSL) 2024 Championship Tour (CT). The Women’s Quarterfinals took over Punta Roca this morning with all of the Top 5 contenders returning to the lineup with three-to-four-foot conditions before the wind and tide put the competition on hold to eventually off for the day. Now, the WSL Final 5 conversation is wide open after today's results.

Bettylou Sakura Johnson Overpowers World No. 1 Brisa Hennessy, Yellow Leader’s Jersey Changes Hands

Brisa Hennessy (CRC) entered El Salvador with the yellow Leader’s jersey by the narrowest of margins, and an intense Quarterfinal awaited against Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW). Sakura Johnson seemed unphased taking on the World No. 1 and delivered a powerful performance on her forehand attack to accrue a 13.26 heat total (out of a possible 20) to eliminate Hennessy, who earned an 11.43. 

“Brisa [Hennessy] in yellow, she’s an incredible surfer, and just going into that heat I knew I had to be smarter,” said Sakura Johnson. “She got me in the first heat of the first round, and I wanted to get her back, so I’m happy to be into the Semis. I wanted to keep it super simple. Me and Ross [Williams] were just talking and said to be super picky, be smart, and surf like I didn’t have any pressure. The last couple of events were definitely some rough patches, and I’m happy to be patching that back up and focusing on my boards."

Gabriela Bryan Positions Herself Closer to WSL Final 5 Contention 

A decimating performance from Gabriela Bryan (HAW) provided an early shakeup to the Top 5 picture after eliminating current No. 3 Molly Picklum (AUS). Bryan’s excellent 8.33 (out of a possible 10) sealed her second-consecutive Semifinal appearance and moved her to No. 6 on the rankings as she looks to break into the World Title race. 

“I just wanted to win the first exchange and start off on a positive note, which I’m happy I did,” said Bryan. “I got those two 6-point rides back-to-back, and after that, I had to wait because I wanted a better score. I’m really glad it worked out and that I didn’t slip off on that last 8. These are the days we dream about going out as professional surfers going out with Molly, same age, out surfing the world’s best waves."

Caroline Marks Handles the Pressure, While Caitlin Simmers Surges Back into Finals Day

All eyes were on Quarterfinal 4, featuring a heavyweight matchup between current No. 4 Johanne Defay (FRA) and reigning WSL Champion and defending event winner. Caroline Marks (USA). Marks’ form was on point in the Elimination Round, and she continued to push her performance when it mattered most, utilizing her powerful backhand attack. Now, Marks begins to make her move further into the Top 5 and a chance to defend her El Salvador title.

“That was a huge heat with where the rankings are at, and every heat is a big heat when you’re looking at the end of the year,” said Marks. “I’m super aware of how important each heat, each moment is and I was really excited to surf that heat. Unfortunately, the wind and the tide got a little funky, but we had some nice sets to start, and I’m just stoked I was in rhythm with the priority.”

World No. 2 Caity Simmers (USA) kicked off the day with a win over No. 7 Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) in Quarterfinal 1. Following Hennessy’s loss, Simmers heads to Rio wearing the yellow Leader’s jersey once again after losing it to Hennessy following Tahiti. 

The next call will be tomorrow, Sunday, June 9, at 6:15 a.m. CST for a possible 6:35 a.m. start. 

Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Quarterfinal Results:

HEAT 1: Caitlin Simmers (USA) 13.83 DEF. Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) 10.10

HEAT 2: Gabriela Bryan (HAW) 15.16 DEF. Molly Picklum (AUS) 12.10

HEAT 3: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) 13.26 DEF. Brisa Hennessy (CRC) 11.43

HEAT 4: Caroline Marks (USA) 11.93 DEF. Johanne Defay (FRA) 11.84 

Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona Women’s Semifinal Matchups:

HEAT 1: Caitlin Simmers (USA) vs. Gabriela Bryan (HAW)

HEAT 2: Bettylou Sakura Johnson (HAW) vs. Caroline Marks (USA)

Surf City El Salvador Pro Presented by Corona Men’s Quarterfinal Matchups:

HEAT 1: Joao Chianca (BRA) vs. Gabriel Medina (BRA)

HEAT 2: Jack Robinson (AUS) vs. Yago Dora (BRA)

HEAT 3: John John Florence (HAW) vs. Crosby Colapinto (USA)

HEAT 4: Matthew McGillivray (RSA) vs. Jordy Smith (RSA)