Correction: A previous version of this story failed to properly credit Maggie Mertens for her Atlantic article “This Woman Surfed the Biggest Wave of the Year.” We regret the error and the updated version is below.
Brazilian big-wave surfer Maya Gabeira has accomplished something that few surfers of ever have before. On February 11, she surfed a 73.5-foot wave in Nazaré, Portugal, “the largest wave surfed by anyone this year,” and breaking “her own previous record, a 68-foot wave,” according to The Atlantic.
Though Gabeira’s momentous achievement won her the World Surf League’s 2020 women’s XXL Biggest Wave Award, it was still overshadowed by this year’s men’s XXL Biggest Wave Award winner, Kai Lenny, who rode a 70-foot wave.
As writer Maggie Mertens notes, there are two big factors responsible for this: “an uncharacteristically long delay” in announcing winners, and a “completely different set of measuring criteria than was required for the men’s waves.”
“The situation highlights a rare and missed opportunity to challenge widespread ideas about women’s athletic inferiority,” writes Mertens, explaining that “WSL’s Big Wave Awards are like the Oscars of surfing.”
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@maya is queen of the surf! She has broken her own Guinness World Records title for the largest wave surfed – unlimited (female). It bests her previous record by five and a half feet, with a confirmed measurement of 73.5 foot (22.4 metres). The World Surf League @wsl announced Maya as the winner of the cbdMD XXL Biggest Wave Award and the wave was later validated by the Red Bull Big Wave Award. Maya rode the wave on February 11, 2020 at the inaugural WSL Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge event in Praia do Norte, Portugal – the same waters as her previous record achievement set back in 2018. ------------------------------------------- #guinnessworldrecords #surf #surfing #surfer #surfboard #surfergirl #surflife #surfers #surfphotography #surfersparadise #surftrip #surfgirl #surfinglife #surfacedesign #surface #surfsup #surfacepattern #surfstyle #surfboards #surfart #surfacepatterndesign #surfline #surfandturf #surfwear #surfcity #SURFERphotos #Surfshop #surfschool #surflinelocalpro #surfgirls
Gabeira, who began surfing professionally when she was 17 years old, told The Atlantic what many women in male-dominated sports already know: it’s hard to just get started.
“The loneliness that involves deciding to become a big-wave surfer as a female makes it much more difficult,” she said.
“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.”
Yet Gabiera is optimistic. “To conclude this year that a woman did surf the biggest, tallest wave of the year is quite phenomenal,” she said. “It opens the idea that in other categories and other areas of surfing, this could be accomplished, too.”
Maybe, thanks in large part to her achievements, we’ll be seeing more surfing girl gangs out on the water.