Surf’s Up with Pro Stephanie Gilmore
World champ and Surfrider Foundation ambassador Stephanie Gilmore hops planes between the best surf breaks on the planet for a living. Alex Pasquariello snagged some tips
What advice do you have for novice surfers?
Start on a thicker longboard so it’s easier to stand up and feel the motion of the wave. Surf a beach with small, rolling waves at first and don’t be scared to go across a wave instead of straight down it - the face of the wave is a lot easier to ride than the white wash. And above all, have fun!
Do you have favorite waves?
So many. My home break of Snapper Rocks off of Rainbow Bay on the southern end of Queensland, on Australia’s Gold Coast. Farther south, the beaches of northern New South Wales are also insanely beautiful. And Honolua Bay, Maui, and P Pass, Micronesia. The rest are secret!
Where have you eaten well on the road?
I went fishing with chef Ludo Lefebvre off Hawaii’s Big Island recently, and he took me to his pop-up restaurant, LudoBites Nine-O at Four Seasons Hualalani to cook up the catch. I have never tasted anything like it. I still can’t decide which was best - the just-caught lobster with caramelized pineapple or the vanilla bean panna cotta with black caviar and caramel sauce.
Tell us about your work with Surfrider Foundation
We’re mistreating our oceans, and Surfrider Foundation is at the forefront of the effort to educate people about it, and I’m honored to be part of it. We have 120 events taking place in more than 20 countries for International Surfing Day on June 20; check out the Surfrider Foundation website to see if there are any events at your beach.
Surfers have a unique connection to the oceans, and that really shows in strength and work of Surfrider Foundation’s grassroots network.
There’s a delicacy to our oceans. They’re precious, all connected and continuously joined across the globe. No matter where you’re from, these bodies of water connect us. Surfers understand this. I’m honored to help share Surfrider Foundation’s important work and to do my little bit to raise awareness of the plight of our oceans and our wave-riding lifestyle.
Everywhere you surf there’s a pro photographer right there documenting the trip, but you’ve started taking you own pictures on your travels. Why?
The start of my fascination with photography was a Hasslebland 501c medium format SLR that I picked up. I did a crazy surf trip and snapped pictures along the way and forgot about the roll of film, only to find it in my bag eight months later. I got the roll developed and loved reliving the trip. Yeah, most of my surf trips have professional photographers, but now I really enjoy seeing — and sharing — my trips from my own angle. Now I have the photography bug. I travel to incredible places with incredible people. People are my thing to capture, so many crazy cool characters in the world. I upgraded to digital recently — my new Nikon 1 is unbeatable.
[ED: Check out Stephanie’s photos from a recent trip to Senegal with Quiksilver Foundation here]
How many days a year are you on the road?
Well, when I add it all up, I’m at home for about four months of the year.
That’s eight months in hotels. What are your must-have amenities?
WiFi is a must! I’d rather have WiFi then a TV. And toothpaste. It’s the one thing I always run out of or forget. I wish all hotels included a tiny toothpaste with the bathroom kit, or a spare at reception that you could politely borrow.
Before we let you go, we have to ask about the picture you tweeted from the recent Beach Boys concert in L.A. Looked like fun. What’s your favorite Beach Boys song?
Ha! Did you like my hat? The Beach Boys were great! My favorite is the melody of Don’t Worry Baby. And I guess I can’t not like Surfer Girl!
Stephanie continues her quest for her fifth Association of Professional Surfers (ASP) World Championship July 10 - 14 at the Roxy Pro in Cote des Basques, Biarritz, France. Follow her surfing, travels and photography on her website or on Twitter at @Steph_Gilmore.