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Maya Gabeira conquers what might be largest wave ridden by a woman

August 13, 2009 |  1:55 pm

Maya Gabeira negotiates the lumpy face of a massive breaker at Dungeons in South Africa.

The Los Angeles Times last year dubbed Maya Gabeira the "Super Woman of Big-Wave Surfing," because of her remarkable exploits in a male-dominated universe.

Two days ago at shark-infested Dungeons off South Africa, the striking Brazilian lived up to that billing -- and then some -- by riding what many are saying was the largest wave ever ridden by a woman.

(If there are any women out there who dispute this claim, we'd love to see your photos.)

Gabeira, 22, was in the Dungeons lineup with some of the world's premier big-wave riders, including San Clemente's Greg Long, Grant "Twiggy" Baker, Andrew Marr and her personal watercraft tow-surfing partner, Carlos Burle, a fellow Brazilian and renowned big-wave charger. Wave faces easily surpassed 40 feet.

Said Gabeira: "It was exciting to get that much speed down the face and manage to make such an irregular wave on my backside. Thanks to Carlos I had the biggest waves of my life that day!"

Gabeira now seems a shoo-in to claim, for the fourth consecutive year, the top prize in the Women's Overall Performance category of the yearlong Billabong XXL Global Big-Wave Awards, which will be announced next spring.

That is, if she can survive that long.

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Maya Gabeira negotiates the lumpy face of a massive breaker at Dungeons in South Africa. Credit: Brenton Geach/BillabongXXL.com.

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