Even before Gilmore joined the ASP World Tour in 2007 and stunned the competition to win four of eight events and claim the world title in her debut season, she was already making herself known in surfing and wasted no time in getting her name out on the international stage. It was clear that Gilmore would always be chasing Beachley’s record. “Steph made that declaration when she first joined the tour,” Beachley admits. “She declared to me that she saw me as a stepping stone. She already had her ambitions of winning 10 world titles, not seven.”
In the time that has elapsed since, Gilmore has gone on to defend her maiden title in 2008, 2009, and 2010, before later success in 2012 and 2014. Her most recent came in 2018, but now all eyes are once again on Gilmore as she takes to the WSL’s high-stakes finals. While it’s clear that in surfing, anything can happen, all eyes will be on Gilmore as she takes to the event and the conditions in San Clemente. Gilmore will have to win three heats against the best surfers in the world before going up against top seed Carissa Moore in the title decider.
It’s a hard run to the final, but Beachley has full confidence in our Aussie superstar. “She does have the hardest run to the final, but she’s also the most experienced in the field,” says Beachley. “So she’s got plenty going for her. She’s in scintillating form and she’s still extremely competitive and passionate about it so I’ve no doubt she’ll go around another year if she’s unable to fulfil her dream and potential this year.”
Known as the “smiling assassin,” Gilmore’s passion for surfing shines through whenever she takes to the water. While it certainly is a momentous milestone that she will be chasing, it goes without saying that medals and rewards aren’t what motivates Gilmore, rather she does it for the love of surfing alone. It’s something Beachley knows all too well. “Steph is the only surfer I know who exudes sheer joy when she paddles into a wave,” says Beachley. “She’s so passionate and driven and fierce, but she does it with immense grace, beauty and style, both in and out of the water. She’s my inspiration in so many ways.”