Filmmaker and surf enthusiast Ava Warbrick was in nearby Honolua, Hawaii, when she heard of Stephanie Gilmore's 2007 win of the Women’s World Title, the first ever to be seized by a rookie. Gripped by Gilmore’s consummate skill and poise, the aspiring director looked to her father, Claw Warbrick (founder of surf brand Ripcurl) for pointers and gained unbridled access to her subject for three years. The result, this month’s documentary Stephanie in the Water, sheds light on the pro surfer’s beginnings at the age of 21, her meteoric rise to become a five-time world champion, and the pressure to sustain it. “Stephanie is radiant and grounded and incredibly fearless,” says the director, who captured Gilmore’s elegant swan dive kick-outs in locations such as her native Australia, Micronesia, Puerto Rico and the US. “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, Warbrick completed the 16mm-shot portrait with an original score by Brooklyn-based producers Fall On Your Sword. On the occasion of the documentary, Gilmore reveals her go-to warm-up music and indispensable style advice from Diana Vreeland.
Who have been some of the women to inspire you over the years?
Stephanie Gilmore: Lisa Anderson 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 in need to get in the mood to paddle out, I listen to “Sunny" by Marvin Gaye.
One thing we would 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 from August 5 on iTunes.