Surf enthusiast Ava Warbick was in Honolua, Hawaii, in 2007 when she first caught word of Stephanie Gilmore, the first ever rookie to win the Women’s World Championship. Gripped by Gilmore’s consummate skill and poise, the aspiring filmmaker looked to her father, Doug “Claw” Warbrick (founder of surf brand Rip Curl), for pointers, and gained unbridled access to the Australian for three years. The resulting documentary, Stephanie in the Water, released this month, sheds light on the pro surfer’s beginnings at the age of 21 through to her prolific rise to become a five-time world champion, and the pressure to stay at the top of the sport. “Stephanie is radiant and grounded and illustrates true poise,” says Warbick, who captured Gilmore’s elegant swan dive kick-outs in locations that included Micronesia and Puerto Rico. “I was interested in what allows someone to perform and stay present at that elite level,” she adds. Collaborating with an all-female production team, the director completed her debut with an original score from Brooklyn-based producers Fall on Your Sword. Here, Gilmore shares her favorite warm-up music and Diana Vreeland’s timeless bikini advice.
Who have been some of the women to inspire you over the years?
Stephanie Gilmore: [fellow pro surfers] Lisa Andersen and Kelia Moniz, for they are beauty on a wave. I admire Maria Sharapova's ambition and what she has done for the athletic female image and equality in sport.
You ultimate surf music?
SG: Tame Impala is great surf music, Daft Punk just makes me want to party on the wave. And if I'm ever needing to get in the mood to paddle out, I listen to “Sunny" by Marvin Gaye.
One thing we'd be surprised to know about you?
SG: My pre-heat warm-up song is "100% Pure Love" by Crystal Waters.
Any secret talents?
SG: I will beat you in table tennis.
You've cited Rihanna as a style icon––what's the most glamorous surf get-up you own?
SG: As Diana Vreeland said: “The bikini is the most important thing since the Atom bomb." I guess my whole wardrobe is pretty glamorous.
Stephanie in the Water is available August 5 on iTunes.