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Riding a 68-ft wave has helped a Brazilian surfer claim a prestigious award and set a new Guinness World Records title.

Brazilian Maya Gabeira has claimed the World Surf League's (WSL) inaugural Women's XXL Biggest Wave Award and set a new record for the Largest wave surfed (unlimited) - female. The 31-year-old rode a 68-ft (20.72-m) wave from trough to crest at the big-wave break down known as Praia do Norte in Nazaré, Portugal, on 18 January 2018.


The WSL and Guinness World Records presented Gabeira with her award and certificate respectively in a ceremony overlooking the waves on Monday (1 October).

"To set the world record has been a dream of mine for many years," she said.

"But of course, after the accident in Nazaré 2013 [when she was knocked unconscious and nearly drowned], it felt like a very distant dream.

"It took a lot of work to have a season like last year, to be 100% again; and to complete it with a Guinness World Records title is quite special."

Maya Gabeira

After her accident Gabeira moved to Nazaré "to be closer to the wave" and work on getting back to her best, taking on the "biggest and most challenging wave".

Gabeira's WSL award is for the 2017/18 season; both that and her Guinness World Records title were judged against archives going back over 20 years. “Congratulations to Maya Gabeira for her outstanding achievement,” said WSL's chief executive, Sophie Goldschmidt.

"Maya exemplifies the courage, commitment, and progression of female athletes around the world and we are so proud to celebrate her today as the new Guinness World Records title holder for the Largest wave surfed unlimited (female)."

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The WSL has said 2019's Big Wave Awards in April will also include two new categories: Women’s XXL Biggest Wave Award (where jet skis maybe be used) and the Women's Biggest Paddle Award (wave caught with only arm power).

Brazil also has the Largest wave surfed (unlimited) - male record holder.

Rodrigo Koxa rode an 80-ft (24.38-m) wave, also at Nazaré, on 8 November 2017.

*Photos by Bruno Aleixo and courtesy of WSL