The Brazilian woman surfed a wave measuring 68 feet / 20.72 metres in Nazaré, Portugal on 18th January
World Surf League (WSL) announced yesterday that Maya Gabeira has claimed the first Women’s XXL Biggest Wave Award of the league, and set a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for the largest wave surfed by a woman. The 31-year old from Brazil successfully surfed a wave measuring 68 feet / 20.72 metres, the same height as a seven-floor building, in Nazaré, Portugal on January 18th, 2018.
This award has special meaning for her. In 2013, she suffered a severe injury at Nazaré. After wiping out on a huge wave, she lost consciousness, and after two failed rescue attempts, was finally pulled to safety and revived. After the incident, she had several problems with her back and underwent surgery making her goals of achieving a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title even more challenging. “But of course, after the accident in Nazaré 2013, it felt like a very distant dream. It took a lot of work to have a season like last year, to be 100% again, and to complete it with a GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title is quite special”, she said.
The process of receiving the title was hampered by a long delay by the WSL in providing the necessary certification. In August she
created a petition to pressure the WSL to certify the measurement of the wave, which was signed by more than 18,000 people. “I researched how to apply to the Guinness Book and learned that The World Surf League must certify every big wave record that is submitted. So, I flew to The WSL headquarters in Los Angeles – where they promised to support a world record for women. But many months later, there appears to be no progress, and my emails have gone unanswered. I’m not sure what’s going on, (but some people don’t like the idea of women surfing the biggest waves.) Anyways, perhaps I haven’t been able to scream loud enough? With your voice, though, I might just be heard. If you have a moment, please sign this petition to ask the WSL to make good on their promise to recognise a world record for women in big wave surfing”, she wrote down at the request on Change.org website.
During the ceremony WSL also announced that The 2019 Big Wave Awards in April will now award two new categories: Women’s XXL Biggest Wave Award, where jet skis may be used, and the Women’s Biggest Paddle Award, for waves caught with only arm power.