Surfing-Young guns fire at Sunset as Picklum takes first win

(Reuters) - Australian surfer Molly Picklum scored a breakthrough win over fellow youngster Caroline Marks from Florida in the final of the Hurley Sunset Pro in pumping, overhead waves on Oahu's North Shore on Sunday.

In the men's event, reigning world champion Filipe Toledo held his nerve in a nailbiting win over Californian Griffin Colapinto, who beat the Brazilian in two-from-two finals last year.

A new generation of young surfers have over the past couple of years threatened to challenge the dominance of Carissa Moore, Stephanie Gilmore and Tyler Wright, who between them have won every world title since 2006.

Of those three veterans, only Wright made it to the semi-finals at Sunset where she was taken down by the hard-charging 20-year-old Picklum from the Central Coast, just north of Sydney.

"You can probably hear it in my voice, I've got so much water up my nose and in my sinuses right now, I can't even see straight but I'm super stoked to have taken it out," said Picklum. "This event is so challenging and yeah, I'm just stoked."

Marks at just 21 is already on her fifth year on tour after becoming the youngest surfer ever to qualify for the world championship tour at 15.

The goofy footer, surfing with her back to the clean blue walls, got the better of 20-year-old Hawaiian Gariela Bryan in their semi-final but ran out of steam and out of luck in the final against Picklum.

The men's draw also featured its share of upsets, with local hero John John Florence and Brazil's three-times world champion Gabriel Medina both bundled out of competition before finals day.

Sunset Beach didn't deliver the giant, shifty peaks it is famous for on finals day but provided perfect, overhead and offshore groomed conditions for surfers to mix sharp rail turns and the occasional tube ride.

Those conditions were ideally suited to the smooth carving Toledo, but it was 24-year-old Colapinto who first impressed the judges with his more go-for-broke approach, giving him the lead for much of the final.

But after a long lull when the ocean went quiet, Toledo picked up two of the best waves and tore them to shreds, scoring a near-perfect 9.47 out of 10 on his final wave.

""When it comes to situations like this, I feel like I'm really well prepared and ready for anything. Griffin came out of the gate swinging...(but) I knew the right wave would come," said Toledo.

The tour heads next to Portugal before a two-stop Australian leg.

The top five men and top five women at the end of the 10 stop tour will battle for a world title in a one-day contest in California in September.

Spots at the 2024 Paris Olympics, being held at the legendary reefbreak of Teahupo'o in Tahiti, also beckon for the top surfers at the end of the global tour.

(Reporting by Lincoln Feast in Sydney; Editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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