This Woman Surfed the Biggest Wave of the Year, Smashed World Record

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There’s brave and then there’s Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira, who is downright fearless.

The 33-year-old rippled into history books earlier this month when she broke the Guinness World Record for surfing the largest wave of the year — a whopping 73.5-foot wave. Gabeira’s feat is even more remarkable when you consider that her record-breaking wave broke a record she herself had previously set.

Gabeira faced off with the massive wave in February at the inaugural WSL Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge event in Praia do Norte, Portugal, but the Guinness World Record team announced that she’d achieved the world record this month.

As per CBS Sports, teams from the University of Southern California, WaveCo Science Team, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography worked together to study the footage of the surfers to get an accurate reading on how big the wave was. They reportedly “used coordinates, scientific calculations, and referencing the surfers' height and board length to determine the size of the wave.”

On Instagram, Gabeira shared a video of her victory and wrote: “Thanks to my team ... this is our achievement and you deserve it so much!!!! I never thought this could happen, still feels surreal. To have a woman in this position in a male-dominated sport is a dream come true!”

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Que dia inesquecível . Bater o meu recorde, e ainda ter a maior onda do ano entre homens e mulheres! Acho q seria impensável anos atrás . Mas no fundo, lá no fundo eu já tinha sonhado com isso! Ao meu time devo esse feito, @sebastiansurfs @stephjohnes @polvo32 @miguel_prata @langerds @dr_axel_haber @spartamedic @mfffrois @nuno_x21 @joulia_mia ... e tantos outros!!! Obrigada por tudo de verdade!!!!! Thanks to my team ... this is our achievement and you deserve it so much!!!! I never thought this could happen, still feels surreal. To have a woman in this position in a male dominated sport is a dream come true! Congratulations to @justinedupont33 for Ride of the Year, and for @michaelafregonese for that incredible barrel at Jaws! I am so proud of the women this year, phenomenal effort! @wsl

A post shared by Maya Gabeira (@maya) on

Gabeira has been surfing professionally since she was 17 in Hawaii, and has racked up quite a few achievements over the years, including the ESPY for Best Female Action Sports Athlete. Of her career, she told The Atlantic that one of the major problems she’s faced is being a woman and accessing big-wave surfing.

“The loneliness that involves deciding to become a big-wave surfer as a female makes it much more difficult,” she told the publication. “It’s just harder to establish [yourself as a woman] in a male-dominated community. Guys take other guys under their wing; they travel together. I don’t have a group of girlfriends traveling with me chasing huge waves. Men have many different groups to go with.”

Tags: Groundbreaking Women

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Written By

Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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