Maya Gabeira says WSL ignored her record wave

August 3, 2018 | Surfing
Maya Gabeira: probably one of the best big wave surfers in the world | Photo: Silva/Red Bull

On January 18, 2018, Maya Gabeira surfed what is widely regarded as the largest wave ever by a female athlete.

The stunt took place at Praia do Norte, in Nazaré, Portugal and, according to videographers, oceanographers, and academics, the wave measured around 80 feet (24 meters).

The Brazilian surfer has been putting all her energy in big wave surfing, and she has been at the forefront of the discipline for many years.

In 2013, she nearly died after wiping out on a massive wave. Gabeira lost her consciousness in the heavy surf and almost drowned.

Five years later, after surfing that unforgettable winter wave in Nazaré, Gabeira waited for an official announcement by the World Surf League (WSL).

The Sound of Silence

She hoped that the organization led by Sophie Goldschmidt could open a new chapter in the history of the sport. But the organization, who also runs the Big Wave Awards, stood silent.

Maya wanted the pro surfing organization to support her Guinness World Record submission and formally asked WSL to recognize a world record for women in big wave surfing.

"I learned that any record in big wave surfing must be registered by the World Surf League. So, I traveled to their office in Los Angeles where they pledged to support the first female record," reveals Maya Gabeira.

"But three months passed, no progress has been made, and my emails have gone answered. I don't want to give up on my dream."

Ignored by the WSL, Gabeira decided to launch an online petition to raise awareness for her achievement, and eventually add her name to the Guinness World Records.

There is still a long way until surfing adopts gender equality. Women in surfing continue to have less income and opportunities than men.

Female surfers earn less money via prize money and sponsorship deals, they're still not allowed to participate in many of men-only events, and they receive less formal recognition for their achievements.

Take a look at a few little-known facts about Maya Gabeira.