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Molly Picklum advances after marathon Margaret River Pro heat

Molly Picklum, pictured at Bells Beach in March,  found a late winning wave to reach the Margaret River Pro quarter-finals.

Molly Picklum, pictured at Bells Beach in March, found a late winning wave to reach the Margaret River Pro quarter-finals. Photo: Getty

Young gun Molly Picklum has survived a marathon heat to stay alive at the Margaret River Pro, with poor conditions forcing an early end to competition.

The World Surf League only got through three of the eight heats in the women’s round of 16 on Tuesday, with competitors left on edge due to the mid-season cut, with the women’s field reduced to five following the event.

Currently ranked world No.3, Picklum’s position is safe but she was hunting a big result after bowing out at this early stage in the previous two events.

The 21-year-old NSW Central Coast surfer faced Alyssa Spencer with the Californian needing victory to avoid relegation from the Championship Tour to the Challenger Series.

Their 35-minute heat was restarted twice after the head judge ruled there had been no surfable waves and it was a further 12 minutes before Picklum cracked the first wave, scoring a 3.83.

However Picklum trailed until paddling on to her final wave with just over two minutes remaining, needing a score of 5.00.

Spencer pulled out of the second wave of the set, which initially looked the better option.

Australian Olympian Picklum’s score of 7.33 came through in the last minute, sealing the win 13.43 to 11.10.

“Obviously it was so slow at the start there,” Picklum said.

“At the end I wasn’t trusting the ocean after sitting for so long and thought that maybe there was only one wave in the set and you’ve got to read what’s in front of you.

“It was a good wave and I knew that I could get some sort of a score.”

Earlier India Robinson upset French world No.2 Johanne Defay to move up to 14th in the rankings in her bid to survive the mid-season cut.

The Victorian outscored Defay with her best two waves totalling 14.00 to 12.00.

But there was heartbreak for 2022 Margaret River champion Isabella Nicholls, with her elimination dropping her off the top tour at the same stage for the second straight year.

Queenslander Nicholls fell to Gabriela Bryan, with the Hawaiian moving inside the top 10 on the back of the victory.

-AAP

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