Maya Gabeira is changing the ambitions and expectations for women in the demanding and often dangerous world of big wave surfing. Having started her surfing career aged 15 on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro, she is now one of a small number of elite women athletes in this traditionally macho field — and has been pivotal in breaking down barriers in a sport that only started offering equal prize money to women in 2019.
Today, Gabeira is still one of only three female big wave surfers with enough corporate sponsorship to be able to surf professionally full-time. Last year, she not only set the world record for the biggest wave — a monstrous 22.4m — ever surfed by a woman, but the biggest wave surfed that year by any surfer, male or a female, at Nazaré beach in Portugal. And her tenacity is even more impressive in light of the fact that she nearly drowned eight years ago during a ride on the same beach. In this episode of everywoman Changemakers, she talks about ambition, the power of perspective and how her career is making waves for the next generation of big wave female surfers.
Watch Maya Gabeira as she breaks the Guinness World Record for the largest wave ever surfed by a woman, at Nazaré Beach in Portugal, in 2020.
Read a full transcript of this podcast here
The Atlantic: This Woman Surfed the Biggest Wave of the Year (September 2020)