After a nail-biting showdown, Stephanie Gilmore has just claimed the prestigious ASP Women’s World Tour title in her rookie year. The win marked the 19-year-old Aussie's fourth win this season, not to mention a victory for the record books. After a phenomenal year, we catch up with Steph for a chat about her highlights of 2007…
How has this season been for you?
This season’s been pretty incredible for me. Four wins was better than even I expected and winning the title really capped it all off for me. I was so surprised to win the title in my rookie year and I think it shocked plenty of other people too! I felt I was going to do well on the tour but I had no idea I would win it.
Winning the title must be a career highlight?
Definitely. I also achieved another ambition this year in winning a contest on a left-hand break. My home beach on the Gold Coast has a lot of right-handers, so wanted to win a WCT event on a left-hand, which I managed to do in Peru. That was a great moment for me.
Do you still get nervous before competitions?
Totally, especially as this year I was in the lead in the ratings, so that put a lot of pressure on. It’s been a pretty nerve-wracking season and I don’t really have any fingernails left now!
Has the training and preparation been tough?
I’ve done a fair bit of training, mainly mental preparation. I do go to the gym in order to stay injury-free. I do CHEK training, which stands for Corrective Holistic Exercise Kinesiology. It covers a lot of work on posture, core strength and balance, so it’s really relevant to surfing and, so far - touch wood – it has kept me injury-free. The most important thing at the moment is to work on overcoming my nerves.
How is the atmosphere behind the scenes?
It’s great. The women’s tour is still pretty small so you see the same people all the time. We’re like one big family really! Once on the water, we’ll all do whatever it takes to win, but after the event we’re all mates at the end of the day.
What do you do in an average day?
I’ll always check surf first thing, and if it’s pumping I’ll do a couple of hours surfing before brekkie. Then I’ll grab a coffee with mates, sort emails and do work stuff, then I’ll be back out surfing again. If there’s no surf, I’ll train in the gym, listen to some tunes and just hang out. The day always ends with a nice dinner, I don’t really watch what I eat but these days I’m more ware of what helps me perform well, so I’ll eat foods that give me sustainable energy throughout an event. I eat lots of protein and complex carbs but I’ve still got a big sweet tooth – nothing beats chocolate!
How did you get into surfing?
I’ve been surfing since I was 9 years old. My dad got my two older sisters into it and I followed turn. I progressed pretty quickly and had a successful amateur career. After doing well in the junior events, people started taking notice and the local guys gave me respect. It was in high school when everyone was working and I was still surfing that I realized I might be able to make a go of surfing as a career. Turning pro happened really quickly. I signed the contract with Rip Curl in 2005 and haven’t looked back, they’ve supported me 100% and helped me progress really fast.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
I love to watch Lisa Anderson, Chelsea Hedges, Mick Fanning and Kelly Slater on the waves.
What’s your favourite riding spot?
My favourite spots are always the ones where I have won! I do love Bells Beach, as competing on my home break gives me the chance to enjoy some time at home and sleep in my own bed, plus I know the waves really well. Honolua Bay in Maui is also really special to me after securing the title there – it’s a really magical place.
What affect does your career have on your personal life?
I’m lucky as my career is not too demanding, so my schedule is pretty relaxed really. I cruise around and do my thing. When I’m away I move around a lot and it can be hard as I never get to settle down, but I wouldn’t change it.
How do you relax when you get the chance?
I like to get away from the beach and mix things up a bit. I love to play guitar, sit around chilling out with friends and family, but I also like to be active. I’ll climb a mountain or jump in a boat, it’s good to try something different.
What’s up next?
I’ve got a nice four-month break between now and the next ASP Women’s world tour event in Brazil so I’m not too sure what I’ll be doing yet, I'm just going to take a breather for now and lap up my win before I pack up again! My surfing in general has lots of room for improvement, so I think I’ll spend some time at home preparing for comps while enjoying some time with my family and friends around. I’m most looking forward to the comps at home next season, but I love all the competitions as every one is different and every wave is different – you never quite know what to expect.