At just 22 years old, Steph Gilmore has just matched Lisa Anderson's four ASP World Titles at the Rip Curl Search in Puerto Rico. Since her rookie year in 2007, Steph has dominated the Tour, winning 15 events in four years. Amid the post-event interview gridlock, we caught up with the champ.
Tell us about the winning moment.
That [Quarterfinal] heat against Melanie Bartels, I honestly thought Mel won that one, so I thought, "Oh well, the world title slipped away here." But I kind of knew I had a back-up event at Sunset. At the time, I was a little confused--I was like, "Are you serious? I just won?!" But I'll take it.
So are winning titles getting easier and easier?
No way. I don't think it looks like that from the outside, does it? I don't think it does. This one was definitely a different journey. A good start, and then slow in the middle. I kind of struggled to find my momentum toward the end of the year, and then found it again at the right time.
And Rip Curl have a whole campaign for you again this year--did they pass out "Happy Gilmore" hats like they did in 2008?
No. No more Happy Gilmore. It's Stephanie Gilmore. I was hoping for something better this year--like "Slash Gilmore." Something more rock and roll.
You've now matched Lisa Andersen's four World Titles. How does it feel to be on the same competitive level as one of women's surfing most iconic figures?
Yeah, I don't know, that's radical. Lisa has been my idol since Day One and she's such an amazing woman. She really kicked it off for the girls in pro surfing. I definitely don't feel like I can say I've achieved the same as Lisa Andersen, but it's cool. She's a legend.
Of the next generation of girls coming up, who do you think poses the biggest threat to you in the future?
Definitely Sally and Carissa. Melanie Bartels even. She's definitely finding her groove. Coco had a bit of a wobbly heat today, but she's been surfing really, really well lately, and she's going to be surfing really strong in Hawaii. All the girls. And the girls qualifying [for the 2011 Tour] too--Tyler Wright, Laura Enever--it's going to be really hard next year.
And are you planning to match Layne's seven titles now?
It's not on the cards for me right now. It's an amazing feat. I cant ever grasp winning that many. And 10! If Kelly wins 10 that's just phenomenal. I can't imagine what people who aren't pro surfers--or aren't even competitive in any way--think about winning that many world titles. I know it's there if I want to go and get it. I'd really have to knuckle down--it's going to get harder and harder. But anything's possible.
Read Shea Lopez's full coverage of the Rip Curl Pro here.