She could've been a ballet, but she ended up chasing the world's largest ocean waves. Here are some curious facts about Brazilian big wave surfer Maya Gabeira.
Maya Reis Gabeira was born in Rio de Janeiro on April 10, 1987. Unlike many kids of her generation, she was introduced to surfing when she was already a full-grown teenager.
Gabeira has already been called the "Super Woman of Surfing." But she still gets anxious and stressed a few days before a storm kicks in.
Maya was one of the first women to pursue a professional career in heavy waters and, today, she is one of the highest-paid female big wave surfers on the planet.
The good-looking surfer model is one hell of a woman. And she defies death as a way of living. Why? Because it is the only thing that really makes her happy.
Maya's infectious smile and style inspire millions of young female surfers worldwide. But what do you know about this lone wolf of big wave surfing?
1. Fernando Gabeira, Maya's father, is the founding member of Brazil's Green Party and a former member of the Revolutionary Movement 8th October (MR-8), the group that kidnapped the US ambassador in Brazil;
2. Yamê Reis, Maya's mother, is a fashion designer;
3. Maya has an older sister, Tami Gabeira, who is a psychologist and teacher;
4. Gabeira studied in the Deutsche Schule Rio de Janeiro, a German international school in Botafogo, until she was 11;
5. Before discovering wave riding, Maya Gabeira loved dancing, jazz music, and tap dance;
6. Maya started surfing in 2003 at Arpoador Beach in Rio de Janeiro. She was 14;
7. When she hit 15, the Brazilian traveled to Australia on an exchange program;
8. Maya Gabeira moved to Hawaii when she was only 17 years old, in October 2004;
9. She worked as a waitress to earn a living in two Hawaiian restaurants;
10. Gabeira admitted trying cannabis when she was young but never quite enjoyed alcoholic drinks;
11. Maya Gabeira suffers from asthma;
12. Gabeira surfed her first big wave on February 6, 2006, at Waimea Bay. She rode a 35-foot wave;
13. She is a multiple-time winner of the Big Wave Awards (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012);
14. In 2008, the Brazilian athlete embarked on an expedition with Raimana Van Bastolear, Jamie Sterling, and Carlos Burle and became the first woman to surf Alaska;
15. In 2009, Gabeira won the Best Female Action Sports Athlete ESPY Award;
16. In 2011, Maya suffered a horrendous wipeout and took five waves on the head at the shallowest point in Teahupoo's reef - she was rescued unconscious;
17. Maya Gabeira is 5'5'' and weighs around 123 pounds;
18. In 2012, Maya took her clothes off for ESPN's Body Issue;
19. She was one of the first women to challenge the XXL waves of Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal;
20. In 2013, Gabeira wiped out in Nazaré and was once again rescued unconscious by Carlos Burle. She had to be revived on the beach;
21. She likes to eat vegetables in the morning. The surfer from Rio loves boiling cassava and then adding a pinch of salt and olive oil;
22. Maya Gabeira complements her physical exercises with yoga and pilates;
23. Gabeira's only known boyfriend is Australian actor-musician Jesse Spencer;
24. One of her favorite sweets is "brigadeiro," a traditional Brazilian dessert made with condensed milk, butter, and chocolate;
25. Maya Gabeira lives between Nazaré, Los Angeles, and Rio de Janeiro;
26. She is an avid supporter of the Brazilian football team;
27. The big wave surfer has already undergone multiple surgeries, including back and nose operations;
28. Maya listens to all types of music before surfing and training. Her playlist includes Beyonce, Drake, Haim, Lady Gaga, Lorde, The Weeknd, and U2;
29. She rarely goes to bed past 10 pm, usually sleeps at least nine hours per day, and wakes up at 6 am;
30. Maya Gabeira has a Slovenian dog called Naza, a tribute to the Portuguese fishing town of Nazaré;
31. Gabeira has worked with countless brands and companies, including Red Bull, TAG Heuer, Mitsubishi, Gucci, Samsung, Lululemon, Renault, Mormaii, Fa, Evoke, Tokoro, Nextel, Billabong, etc.;
32. Maya Gabeira is a board member at Oceana, a non-governmental organization dedicated to protecting the world's oceans;
33. In January 2018, Maya rode the biggest wave ever by a woman. The Brazilian surfer caught an 82-foot beast at Nazaré. The Guinness World Records created a separate big wave surfing category for female riders;
34. In Nazaré, Gabeira has between 30 and 40 surfboards to choose from;
35. In 2015, the documentary "Maya Gabeira: Return to Nazaré" revealed her emotional comeback to a place that nearly killed her;
36. On February 11, 2020, the Brazilian charger improved her previous Guinness World Record for the largest wave ever ridden by a woman, setting it at 73.5 feet (22.4 meters);