Maya Gabeira is a Brazilian big wave surfer. She is most known for having surfed a 73.5 ft high wave in Nazaré, Portugal in February 2020, recorded by Guinness World Records as the biggest wave ever surfed by a female.  It was also the biggest wave surfed by anyone that year.  She has received numerous accolades including the ESPY award for Best Female Action Sports Athlete and is considered one of the best female surfers in the world as well as one of the most influential female surfers of all time.

 

Some interesting insights from this episode:

  • Both parents were well known in Brazil so she felt the need to leave the country at a young age to do something on her own terms and to find something that would be true to herself.
  • She suffered severe asthma as a child which made her feel weak and vulnerable but as she grew older, she learned how to turn that weakness into a strength.
  • “Surfing picks you up and also beats you down. It gives you everything but also takes everything out of you.”
  • You have to train on strengthening your lungs so you’re able to hold your breath for extended periods. Maya is able to hold her breadth for up to 4 minutes.
  • While there were plenty of women competing in small wave surfing, Maya was one of the first women to break into the dangerous sport of big wave surfing.
  • She barely survived a near-fatal accident while surfing at Nazare when a 160 ton wave collapsed on her and she lost consciousness in the water.
  • She had to endure years of intense pain and rehab following three spine surgeries along with dealing with debilitating anxiety disorder to be in a position to surf again. She ended up setting two Guinness world records for big wave surfing.
  • “Excellence is not about perfection. Perfection doesn’t exist. Excellence is the greatest you can be.”

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