Stephanie Gilmore back on top with her fifth world surfing title

Stephanie Gilmore celebrates her event win in France and her fifth women’s world surf title

Australia’s Stephanie Gilmore has won her fifth world surfing title, making her only the third surfer to achieve the milestone in the professional sport’s 36 year history. Only fellow Australian Layne Beachley (who won seven world titles before retiring) and men’s champion Kelly Slater (11 so far) have won more. The 24 year old took out the 2012 ASP Women’s World Title on 14 July when she won the Roxy Pro Biarritz event in France, beating compatriot Tyler Wright and giving her an unbeatable* 6,300 point championship lead over Sally Fitzgibbons.

‘It’s such a cool day, I’m shaking,’ she said after the win. ‘I have so much energy I could dance my way back to Australia.’

Gilmore said she started the day not expecting to win, but things fell into place as the day progressed. She beat Malia Manuel in the Quarter Finals and in the semis out-surfed Carissa Moore, the Hawaiian who took her world title crown in 2011. Wright, who was Rookie of the Year in 2011, beat American Courtney Conlogue and Hawaiia’s Coco Ho on her way to the final day showdown, but her 13.10 score fell short of Gilmore’s winning 18.53 wave points.

Her successful 2012 season takes in wins at Biarritz, the Gold Coast and Taranaki, runner-up at Bells Beach and two equal fifth placings in Sydney and Brazil. The final event in California is in early August.

Stephanie Gilmore on the Biarritz winners’ podium with runner-up Tyler Wright (at right) and Coco Ho and Carissa Moore who placed equal third

The 24 year old has returned to the winning form she had in 2010 when she won her fourth world title and became the first professional surfer (male or female) to win four consecutive titles including her rookie year. It follows a difficult 2011 season where she finished the tour in ranked third after a violent assault at her Tweed Heads home in December 2010 left her with a fractured wrist, head wounds and lost confidence. It took some time to regain her consistency. She started 2011 with a fifth place, dropped to ninth in Taranaki, New Zealand before climbing back to first in the year’s penultimate event.

‘This year for me was all about improving my consistency and having fun with my surfing,’ she said in a media statement. ‘From when I started five years ago to where we are now, women’s surfing has improved so much. It’s an honour to be back up top as these girls push me everyday and are all incredible surfers.’

With career earnings of just under $600,000 for her six years on the professional circuit, it is not the money that motivates her (although a lucrative sponsorship deal with Quicksilver surf wear company in January 2011 has been a nice reward).

‘To be able to do what we do and make a life out of surfing is a really blessed thing. Surfing is what motivates me to wake up each day and attempt to better myself.’

*The points’ total for each surfer at the end of the world tour year is based on their best six point scores from the seven tour events. Gilmore is currently on 48,400 points – 6,300 ahead of Sally Fitzgibbons and 11,700 ahead of Tyler Wright and Carissa Moore. Even if Gilmore failed to earn any more points, a 10,000 point win in the final event still leaves the championship well out of reach for Wright and Moore and Fitzgibbons would still be 1,300 points short of Gilmore as her best-of-six points total could only reach 46,900 (after discarding one of her 5,200 fifth place points scores).

[all images courtesy of ASP/Damien Poullenot]

Career highlights

Stephanie Gilmore grew up in the Tweeds Heads region of NSW and she still lives there when not touring. She won her first major competition as a 17 year old wildcard entry in the 2005 Gold Coast tour event and had another wildcard entry win the following year. She joined the professional ranks in 2007 and won her first world title in her rookie year (as well as being named 2007 Rookie of the Year) before claiming another three in succession.

Stephanie riding her winning waves at Biarritz

Her 2010 title win gave her the distinction of being the first professional surfer to win four consecutive world titles including her rookie year. Other surfers, including Layne Beachley and men’s champion Kelly Slater had won four titles in a row, but they had been on the tour circuit for a few years before their first wins. Though Slater is the most prolific world champion (with 11 and still on the world tour circuit) Beachley actually won six consecutive championships (from 1998 to 2003 with a seventh in 2006 before her retirement). Her feat in 2010 also earned her that year’s Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year Award.

Over her six years on the professional tour Gilmore has won 21 ASP (Association of Surfing Professionals) women’s world tour events. She is also a three-time winner (2008, 2009 and 2010) of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing – a three-contest series run in the big winter waves on Hawaii’s north shore.

2012 ASP Women’s World Championship Tour Results

  • Winner – Roxy Pro Gold Coast, Qld (25 Feb – 7 Mar)
  • Runner-up – Rip Curl Women’s Pro Bells Beach, Vic (3-9 Apr)
  • Winner – TSB Bank New Zealand Surf Festival, Taranaki, NZ (11-15 Apr)
  • Equal 5th – Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic, Northern Beaches, NSW (18-23 Apr)
  • Equal 5th – Billabong Rio Pro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (9-13 May)
  • Winner – Roxy Pro Biarritz, France (10-14 Jul)
  • ??? – Nike US Open of Surfing, California, USA (30 Jul – 5 Aug)

World Title Rankings

  • 2012: ASP Women’s World Champion
  • 2011: Third
  • 2010: ASP Women’s World Champion
  • 2009: ASP Women’s World Champion
  • 2008: ASP Women’s World Champion
  • 2007: ASP Women’s World Champion

World Title Event Victories

2012…

  • Roxy Pro Biarritz
  • TSB Bank New Zealand Surf Festival
  • Roxy Pro Gold Coast

2011…

  • Roxy Pro Biarritz

2010…

  • Rip Curl Pro Search Puerto Rico
  • Commonwealth Bank Beachley Classic
  • Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
  • Roxy Pro Gold Coast

2009…

  • Roxy Pro Gold Coast
  • Billabong Pro Maui

2008…

  • Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
  • Rip Curl Pro Mademoiselle
  • Movistar Mancora Peru Classic
  • Roxy Pro Sunset Beach
  • Billabong Pro Maui

2007…

  • Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach
  • NAB Beachley Classic
  • Mancora Peru Classic
  • Billabong Pro Maui

2006…

  • Havianas Beachley Classic (as a wildcard entry)

2005…

  • Roxy Pro Gold Coast (as a wildcard entry)

Other Tour Victories

2010…

  • Vans Triple Crown (ASP Specialty Series)
  • Vans Duel for the Jewel at Backdoor (ASP Specialty)
  • Cholo’s Hawaiian Pro (ASP 6-Star)
  • Swatch Girls Pro (ASP 6-Star)

2009…

  • Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (ASP Specialty Series)

2008…

  • Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (ASP Specialty Series)
  • Midori Pro (ASP 6-Star)

2007…

  • Roxy Pro Women’s Surfing Festival (ASP 5-Star)
  • Honda US Open of Surfing (ASP 6-Star)

2006…

  • Roxy Pro Women’s Surfing Festival (ASP 5-Star)

2005…

  • Mr. Price Pro (ASP 5-Star)