Profile: Steph Gilmore, Surf Goddess & Rockstar

Update July 16, 2012: Quiksilver’s Stephanie Gilmore took home her 5th ASP World Title today on the shores of Biarritz. Amid sunny skies and 4-5 foot waves, Stephanie was all smiles when she beat out Tyler Wright and staked her claim as the 2012 Surfing World Champion. CONGRATS STEPH! GO AUSSIE GO!!

Stephanie Gilmore’s office is the ocean. As a 23-year-old professional surfer sponsored by Quiksilver, she travels the world chasing waves. When she’s waiting for the swell to pick up, she’s usually to be found strumming her mini electric guitar. Not a bad life, if you can get it. Here, she talks to Billabout about her passions: surfing and music.

For some gorgeous shots of Steph, check out her photo gallery here.

Steph’s Pie
When did you first visit the U.S.?
I visited California in 2002 when I was 13-years-old to compete in the U.S. Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach. I loved it and have returned at least once every year since.

What were your early impressions of it?
I remember it feeling like I was in a movie, and that was the coolest thing. Hollywood, giant theme parks and old school cars. Fun!

What’s your favourite U.S. city?
NYC is fabulous; it doesn’t get much better than all of those delicious restaurants, dancing until the sun rises, shopping, street art and there is surf, too! The people are rad, so it’s like a giant network of creativity and possibilities.

What are your three favourite waves and beaches in U.S.?
Lower Trestles for high performance, Malibu for retro longboarding and Montauk for its craziness.

Are you touring at the moment?
We’re actually on our holiday season. The tour starts up again on the Gold Coast towards the end of Feb. with the Quiksilver/Roxy Pro.

What do you love about surfing?

No matter how powerful humans are, we will still never be more powerful than the ocean – that alone is humbling.

When did you realize you wanted to be a pro surfer?

No exact moment, but I felt that it was the best thing in the world, and why not try to do it as a career? I also observed the lifestyle of people like Lisa Anderson and Kelly Slater, and I couldn’t think of a one with more freedom.

What competition win are you most proud of?
In 2005, winning a World Tour event as a wildcard; I was 17-years-old at pumping Snapper Rocks, my home break, in front of all my family and friends.

Steph Gilmore 2010 World Champ, Puerto Rico. (photo: courtesy of ASP/Kristin)

Which young Australian surfer has the potential to make it internationally?
Jack Robinson from Western Australia is a little super freak! He’ll make it on the world stage.

Where’s home?
My official address is Rainbow Bay, on the New South Wales/Queensland border on the East Coast of Australia. But I only spend three months of the year here.

What do you do when you’re not surfing?

Travelling to my next desired destination in search of waves or live music, to hang with friends or just purely for the freedom of traveling. I am extremely lucky that the ocean is my office.

What are your flying tips?

Stay hydrated, watch some great movies, use some earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones and just enjoy some time away from the hectic life back on earth.

Where would you like to be in five years?
Five years richer of knowledge of the world and culture, and healthy.

Do you have a favorite quote?
“Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.” 
— Marilyn Monroe

Who is your hero?
Jack White is my superhero.

Tell us a joke?
What do you call a Blind Dinosaur? A do-ya-think-he-saurus…

Steph Gilmore (photo: courtesy of Quiksilver)

What are five songs that are regularly on your pre-competition playlist?
Anything by Tame Impala, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Dead Kennedys, Hole or Dirty Three.
[Editor’s note: Billabout reckons Steph’s a rockstar for these music picks.]

Tell us about your Bob Dylan surf board?
My friend from New York is an artist, and she saw a board of mine had a pic of River Phoenix on it. She must have liked it, and I had a fresh board there, so that’s what she drew.

What’s your favorite Dylan song?
All Along the Watchtower

Name your three favorite Australian bands?
Tame Impala, AC/DC, Dirty Three and Nick Cave – to make it four.

How did you get into playing music?
My dad got me strumming when I was about 8-years-old and I started to play a lot when I finished high school. I don’t write songs; I just get lost in a random riff and improvise most of the time. It’s a great pasttime on tour when the waves are bad.

What music equipment do you take on the road with you?
It’s a little Mosrite (mini guitar) that a friend gave to me and one day I walked into Rivington Guitars (NY) and found a tiny “smoke box” amp to go with it and now I don’t have to miss my electric guitar.

And what’s this about a film project you’re working on?
It’s being told by NYC artist and filmmaker Ava Warbrick, and is a visual journal through a period of time in my life. It’s a coming of age tale, which I think will appeal to a much broader audience than just the surfers. Ava and I couldn’t have lived more different lives: I grew up in a quiet northern NSW home, obsessed with the ocean, while she studied and lived in NY.

Steph’s Sauce

Cate Blanchett and Nicole Kidman represent Australia beautifully in the film industry.

Marcos Ambrose is doing really well in the Nascar series.

Abbey Lee Kershaw has a huge and desired presence in the fashion world.

Nick Cave (musician) is pretty damn rad in general.

I also love that AC/DC are made Down Under, but everyone still thinks they’re Brits or Yanks.

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