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Maya Gabeira Sets New World Record

She Wins cbdMD XXL Biggest Wave Award

  • Justine Dupont Wins Ride of the Year and Performance of the Year Awards
  • Red Bull Big Wave Awards Congratulate All 2020 Winners
Pictured: Maya Gabeira’s record-setting wave at Nazaré, Portugal for the cbdMD XXL Big Wave Award. Credit: © WSL / Poullenot

LOS ANGELES, Calif./USA (Thursday, September 10, 2020) –  Today, the World Surf League (WSL) announced that Maya Gabeira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) won the cbdMD XXL Biggest Wave Award and set the new World Record for the largest wave ever surfed by a woman. As part of the Red Bull Big Wave Awards (BWA), the BWA validated Gabeira’s ride as the new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title holder for the largest wave surfed (unlimited) – female.

“This wave was during the [WSL Nazaré Tow Surfing] contest and although I say I’m not a competitive person, I was very in the zone and braver than I usually am on this day,” said Gabeira. “I was risking more than I usually like to do. When I let go of the rope, I had a feeling it could be the one but wasn’t sure. The speed was very high but the noise that the wave made when it broke made me realize that this was probably the biggest wave I’d ever ridden.”

Gabeira’s record-setting wave measured 73.5 feet, besting her own previous World Record, 68 feet. She broke the record at the infamous big-wave surf break, Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal, on February 11, 2020, as part of the WSL’s inaugural Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge event. Although the men’s and women’s divisions are separate for this category, Gabeira’s ride also beat the men’s cbdMD XXL Biggest Wave, which was won by Kai Lenny (Paia, Hawaii) and measured 70 feet.

“This World Record really strikes me as quite amazing because the size of the wave was measured taller than the men’s size for the winner, so it means a woman actually rode the biggest wave of the year overall,” continued Gabeira. “That to me was something I had dreamed of years ago but not as something realistic. There was no representation for me to believe that it was possible but to see that happen is incredible. This is seen as an extremely male-dominated sport, so to have a woman be able to represent that is quite rare.”

In one of BWA history’s closest races, Gabeira’s ride measured only 2-to-3 feet larger than Justine Dupont’s nominated wave from the same competition day on February 11. Dupont’s second nominated wave took place on November 13, 2019, also in Nazaré, Portugal.

“I am a big fan of Justine (Dupont) and what she has been doing at Nazaré,” said Gabeira. “I think it’s one of the reasons I kept pushing myself. I was on the edge of retiring a few years ago and then I saw her evolution and thought I have to keep up for a few more years. I really didn’t expect to go any bigger or anything like that, but I kept riding and enjoying my time at Nazaré and that wave was quite special although it was quite terrifying as well.”

Justine Dupont Wins Ride of the Year and Performance of the Year Awards
Despite measuring only a few feet shy of the 2020 cbdMD XXL Biggest Wave Award and the World Record, Dupont celebrates an incredible season with wins in the Ride of the Year and Performance of the Year categories. Dupont, the 29-year-old from Seignosse, France, is one of the most decorated women in big-wave history and will continue to push the boundaries of big wave surfing.

“This wave was really special and every one said to me that this wave was really special from the shape to the footage, all the angles, and the size,” said Dupont. “Everything made this wave special and having all the community speaking about it like this was a big reward. It is not about a performance for a woman but a performance for a surfer. Having Kai (Lenny) and Lucas (Chianca), the best in the discipline, wanting to surf this wave, and I was on it, so I am really stoked. This wave is special so having the Ride of the Year means I had the best line possible on a giant wave and I made it.”

The rides submitted for the women’s cbdMD XXL Biggest Wave Award by Dupont and Gabeira were incredibly close and a potential World Record. As such, WSL deemed it important to have the data reviewed by an independent scientific team as a critical point of reference for the determination of the biggest wave. The team included members from the WaveCo Science team, the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, and the University of Southern California, Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering.

The analysis was based on video and photo imagery, camera locations, camera lens parameters, and environmental conditions, including tides, sunlight, and wave set-up. Collinearity equations were used to transform the image coordinates into real-world coordinates based on estimates of the geometric parameters, including the height of the cliff at Nazaré. In addition, fixed reference points in the imagery, including the surfers’ heights, surfboard and jet ski dimensions, and estimated crouching heights, were utilized in the scientific calculations.

Red Bull Big Wave Awards Congratulate All 2020 Winners
The 2020 Red Bull Big Wave Awards will officially close today after celebrating the best in big wave surfing over the past year. Every wave ridden at every big wave break around the world in this period was eligible for consideration across five award categories: Ride of the Year, cbdMD XXL Biggest Wave, Performance of the Year, Biggest Paddle of the Year, and Wipeout of the Year.Experience all winning rides and highlights from the Red Bull Big Wave Awards at WorldSurfLeague.com/BigWaveAwards.

RIDE OF THE YEAR
Justine Dupont (Seignosse, France) at Nazaré, Leiria, Portugal on February 11, 2020
Billy Kemper  (Haiku, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on January 23, 2020

cbdMD XXL Biggest Wave
Maya Gabeira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) at Nazaré, Leiria, Portugal on February 11, 2020
Kai Lenny (Paia, Hawaii) at Nazaré, Leiria, Portugal on February 11, 2020

PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR
Justine Dupont (Seignosse, France)
Kai Lenny (Paia, Hawaii)

BIGGEST PADDLE OF THE YEAR
Paige Alms (Haiku, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on December 12, 2019
Eli Olson (Haleiwa, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on December 12, 2019

WIPEOUT OF THE YEAR
Keala Kennelly (Honolulu, Hawaii) at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on December 12, 2019

The 2020 Red Bull Big Wave Awards are proudly supported by Red Bull and cbdMD.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

About the WSL 
The World Surf League (WSL), established in 1976, is the home of surfing. The WSL is dedicated to changing the world through the inspirational power of surfing by creating authentic events, experiences, and storytelling to inspire a growing, global community to live with purpose, originality, and stoke.The WSL is a global organization, headquartered in Santa Monica and with regional offices in North America, Latin America, Asia Pacific, and EMEA. The WSL possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation, and performance at the highest levels.

The WSL is comprised of Tours & Events, celebrating the world’s best surfers across all disciplines and annually running more than 180 global contests and crowning the undisputed World Champions across all divisions; WSL WaveCo, where innovation meets experience; and WSL Studios, which offers best in class storytelling across competition, lifestyle, and conservation.For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com

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