Age: 25
This 25-year-old Aussie surfed her first pro event as a wildcard at age 17, won her first world championship at 19, and has tacked four more titles onto her total since. The first four came consecutively during her first four tours, by the way, something no other man or woman has done in professional surfing. She’s the youngest-ever inductee into not one, but two surfing halls of fame (So Cal’s and Australia’s) and, if she continues on this course, may become the most decorated female surfer of all time well before she turns 30.
Hell, if Gilmore keeps shredding waves like she is, she could give 11-time men’s champion Kelly Slater a run for his money—not that there's any ill will. Asked by the Sydney Morning Herald in 2010 if anyone can beat his record number of titles (then ten), Slater responded, "I think Stephanie Gilmore will."
"She's tried for four world titles," Slater added, "she's won four and there's no one out there right now whose telling me or showing me they're going to beat her anytime soon."
But Gilmore's passion for the sea goes beyond her dominance in surfing. Gilmore, along with Slater, is on the advisory board for ocean eco-activists Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.
—Kurt Miller
For more on Stephanie Gilmore, click here.