A Brazilian is emerging as one of the world’s top big wave surfers – and she’s a woman. Maya Gabeira’s skills and bravery have made her a female pioneer of daredevil tactics in a male-dominated sport. Pretty Tough, indeed.
Gabeira first took to a surfboard as an escape from her own teenage rebellion, but now she is breaking as many taboos and preconceptions as she is surfing breakers. She gave up a privileged life in Brazil to chase a dream: to surf the world’s biggest waves. From Hawaii to South Africa, Gabeira is doing exactly that, riding one wall of water after another.
Five years after leaving Rio de Janeiro, the 22-year-old is a star on and off the water. After winning a third consecutive surfing “Oscar” for best female this spring, she has just done a photo-shoot for Italy’s Vanity Fair and recently appeared on a popular Brazilian variety TV show that generates audiences of up to 80 million viewers.
Hailed as a pioneer for female athletes, Gabeira has become a role model for young women who are following her into the sport.
“It’s changing already,” she told the Observer. “The girls on tour are surfing so good and they are young and beautiful. Being a surfer and feminine at the same time is becoming more normal now.”
Dubbed the bel