Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira is officially the Guinness World Record holder for an enormous wave surfed – unlimited, for a female. The previous record-holder? Maya Gabeira. That’s right, the 33-year-old broke her record by five and a half feet, surfing a 73.5-foot wave (22.4 meters).
She broke the record on February 11, 2020, at the inaugural WSL Nazare Tow Surfing Challenge event in Praia do Norte, Portugal, but Guinness World Record announced it on Thursday. She set the old record at Praia do Norte, Portugal, in 2018.
“The wave was pretty special although it was terrifying as well!” is how Gabeira described the moment to Guinness World Records.
Teams from the University of Southern California, WaveCo Science Team, and Scripps Institution of Oceanography all had to study the footage to get an accurate reading on how big it was. That helps explain why it took months to validate the record. They used coordinates, scientific calculations, and referencing the surfer’s height and board length to determine the wave’s size.
Not only did Gabeira break the world record, but The World Surf League also named her the winner of the cbdMD XXL Biggest Wave Award for her ride at Praia do Norte. Gabeira started surfing professionally at 17-years-old. In 2009 she won the ESPY for Best Female Action Sports Athlete.