There are the World Champions–all legendary in their own right; but multiple world title winners etch their names into surfing history and become the greatest surfers to walk the earth. However, two surfing figures rise above even the best are two surfers on completely different echelons. Over 20 years, these two surfers have been overwhelmingly dominant in competition, blowing their competitors out of the water for years at a time. The GOATS. (Greatest of all Time). Kelly Slater and Steph Gilmore.
Both need no introduction as the winningest surfers of all time. But today, we focus on Steph–a surfer regarded as the most stylish surfer ever and even quoted by Kelly himself as “Steph surfs the way we should all surf.” A testament to her style and competitive prowess. Combining style, flow, and elegance with a fierce competitive streak, it’s no wonder Steph became an eight times WSL World Champion. Her career speaks for itself, and in this, we take a deeper dive into the life of Steph, from where she grew up, how she started surfing, and her most notable events and achievements. It’s been a long and illustrious career, so we have heaps to get through.
Table of Contents
Who is Steph Gilmore?
Stephanie Gilmore is a professional surfer from the Gold Coast of Australia. She is called the greatest female surfer of all time and has won 8 world titles. She’s an incredibly smooth and stylish surfer with 34 event wins on the Championship Tour. Steph still competes on the World Tour at the time of writing (aged 35) and won her last title in 2022 at the WSL finals at Trestles, California. Now, Steph is known for her style in the surf and her joyous and playful personality on land. Before we look into Steph’s most notable achievements in her career, how did the eight times World Champ start surfing?
Steph Gilmore’s Early Years
Born on 29 January 1988, Steph grew up in one of the best places to grow up as a surfer— on the Gold Coast, Australia. Home to world-class pointbreaks, perfect weather, and three of the best surfers on the planet, the Goldie is ground zero for Australian professional surfing. In this part of the world, people don’t grow up wanting to be soccer players or movie stars; they dream of being surfers and competing on the WSL Championship Tour. It’s one of the best surf towns in the world, and young Steph would develop and groom her surfing style on the various perfect pointbreaks.
At age 9, Gilmore learned to surf by standing on a bodyboard in shore breaks across the Gold Coast beaches. Her family home in Kingscliff, NSW, would be the perfect playground for a budding surfer. Steph’s style and competitive prowess grew and grew from Snapper to D-bah and everywhere else with sick waves on the Goldie. By 17, she was competing in wild card events on the Championship Tour and won the Roxy Pro Gold Coast in 2005–her maiden CT event entry and win.
After competing on the WQS, Steph qualified for the Championship Tour in 2007 and successfully won 4 of the eight events that year. A dominating rookie year and one unmatched by any other female surfer. She then went on to win another seven world titles while collecting countless achievements, awards, and accolades.
Steph’s Achievements & Awards
As you’d expect, the list of Steph’s wins and achievements is extensive, and there are far too many to include on this list., I’ve tried my best to summarize the most notable.
Championship Tour World Titles
Out of all Steph’s World Titles, her most impressive campaign came in 2022. After narrowly missing the mid-year cut earlier in the year, Steph earned results to put her in the top 5 women for the year. Since 2021, the WSL has changed its formatting and now decides its world champion through a 1-day event at Trestles, California.
Previously, the World Title was decided by whoever had the most points at the end of the year. This meant Steph had a shot, even though she finished 5th. She surfed her way to the final and beat Carissa Moore in the final to secure her 8th World Title. Pretty impressive, huh?
Notable Accolades & Awards
- Surfers Hall of Fame in 2010
- Laureus Actionsports Person of the Year 2010
- 34 total event wins
With such success, Steph has racked up many notable sponsors, including Roxy, Nikon, Breitling watches, and Audi. She has also worked with DHD Surfboards for much of her career, a relationship that helped her get the best boards and perform the type of surfing she’s known for.
Stephanie Gilmore’s Personal Life
Steph isn’t known for sharing much of her private life and keeps much of it under wraps. To our knowledge, she doesn’t have a husband or children.
Today and What the Future Holds for Steph
No one knows when Steph will retire, and she keeps us guessing, just like Kelly. Outside of surfing, Steph has a passion for music, art, photography, and guitar playing and works with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as an advisor and ambassador. All I do know is that we keep getting to watch Steph for years to come, whether on the CT or in free surfing movie parts. She is one of the winningest and most stylish surfers ever to live, and it’s a type of surfing we can all take a leaf or two from.
Dan Harmon is a content writer and full-time surf travel enthusiast. He travels the world full-time while creating surf content, traveling to the world’s best surf destinations, and hunting out some lesser-known corners. You can follow more of Dan’s travels over on his YouTube Channel, website, and Instagram.