Making waves: the female surfer smashing records and stereotypes

In the intimidating and macho world of big-wave surfing, Brazilian Maya Gabeira is breaking male and female records – and challenging the sport’s testosterone-fuelled identityThe thing that struck Maya Gabeira was the sound. “I had never heard anything similar: it was the first affirmation that that was the biggest wave I had ever ridden,” she says. “It was just ‘phwoooaaaarrrrrrr.’” She mimics a bomb exploding in her hands. There was also a continuous “Brrrrrrrrrrrrr,” she says, like a deep engine humming – the sound of tonnes of water falling, falling, falling from a great height. “It almost vibrates inside your body.”The Brazilian big-wave surfer is reflecting on the events of 11 February 2020, when she rode a monstrous 22.4m (73.5ft) wave at Nazaré in Portugal. It set the world record for the biggest wave ever surfed by a woman. It was also the biggest wave surfed by anyone, male or female – the first time this feat has been achieved by a woman. Continue reading...

Keep Reading