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Bettylou Sakura Johnson Wins Haleiwa, Qualifies for Championship Tour
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Bettylou Sakura Johnson | A Surf Champion in the Making

Feb 012022

From watching competitions as a little grom, to becoming a rising surf star competing in the first full length women’s event at Pipeline for the 2022 Championship Tour, Bettylou Sakura Johnson is a world champion in the making. “This is the very first CT event at Pipe for women, this is how women's surfing will be pushed to another level.” 

Meet Bettylou Sakura Johnson, a sixteen-year-old rookie surfer who lives and breathes saltwater. As her first-ever Championship Tour starts, we swam up to the shredder to talk about how she prepared for Pipeline and the upcoming season. 

In 2021, Bettylou claimed the win at the 2021 Haleiwa Challenger, securing her spot in the 2022 World Championship Tour. The first stop: Banzai Pipeline, a reef break off the North Shore in Oahu. Long story short, this break is gnarly and famous for bringing waves of epic size and crisp barrels. This wave is a force of nature, and Bettylou has the homecourt advantage. 

How does she prep for Pipeline? Easy. She surfs it. “I have been trying to put in my time at Pipe. I believe you can really only get better at a surf spot when you put in more time in the lineup. My strategy for Pipe is to get into the wave early and identify when the wave is coming into the line. But also, to fully commit into the wave. You can't hesitate out there.” 

 

Not hesitating and going in with confidence is how Bettylou got into the Championship Tour as a teenager. The Haleiwa native is studying every aspect of the wave before the competition. “Pipeline is a wave that takes time. When compared to someone who is an amazing surfer but has never surfed Pipe before, I definitely think I have a homecourt advantage. I believe it comes down to where you’re from and what you represent during those practice sessions. It really is all about getting in tune with the ocean and spending time out there.” 

 

There’s no doubt she’s beyond prepared for the break. She’s focused. She’s determined. She’s a rookie with a positive, adaptive mindset of “really committing to a wave and being confident in myself and believing it.” Aware of her age and how much she has to learn, she’s ready to soak it all in. “I'd like to learn a ton about surf competitions this year and experience new things. As a kid, I'm growing and learning. I’m excited for it all to happen in a matter of time. I am going to be confident in myself, I’m going to enjoy every moment I have on the Championship Tour, and I’m going to take it step by step.”

 

She’s a young female surfer who’s getting attention. How could she not? She’s a 16-year-old surfer dominating some of the most treacherous surf breaks in the world. “I hope to push and take women's surfing to a new level, to make it more exciting than it already is. I’d also like to take care of each place we travel to, by helping communities and sharing my love of surfing with others around the world.”

 

During the Tour, she will likely go up against her inspiration Carissa Moore. “Competitively, I believe she is the most consistent with her surfing. I actually competed with her before in Maui, during the Honolua Bay contest. It was the very last competition there, due to a shark attack during the event period.” She’s stoked and ready to be in the water with her inspiration once again.  

 

Advice for aspiring surfers? Bettylou keeps it simple: “There are two things. First, respect goes a long way. Second, enjoy surfing, it’s a blessing and we are so fortunate to be able to do it.”

 

In her free time, you can find Bettylou sipping OG Green Monster, stoking herself out on “a reeling right point break that barrels and has big walls to do turns, with just a couple people out.”

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