“Took a Long Time in My Brain to Come Back”: Big Wave Surfing Star Unearthed the Horrors of a Deadly Accident on the World’s Creepiest Wave in 2016

Published 12/29/2022, 6:00 PM EST

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Surfing, although is emerging as a widely accepted sport, however, the life-threatening dangers hold many people to refrain from engaging in the sport. The world has witnessed some of the deadliest wipeouts in recent years. The fierce force of the waves has taken the lives of many emerging surfing stars. Even the sports legends have also felt the cruel nature of the waves and had many fatal encounters of drowning or slipping in the waves. And Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira is no different, as she has also seen death very closely due to the wipeout.

In 2016, Maya went surfing on the beaches of Nazaré, Portugal. But what happened afterward, shook the entire surfing community. 


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Maya Gabeira almost drowned due to a wipeout

The four-time Billabong surf champion was struck by gigantic waves while surfing. According to a report by Men’s Journal, the 35-year-old broke her ankle during the wipeout. Gabeira lost her balance and got trapped in the midst of a 70-foot-tall wave at Nazare beach. Her lifejacket came off from the impact, which worsened the situation for the rescuers.


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Brazilian surfer lost consciousness after the fierce impact and couldn’t maintain her balance. The fast-flowing waves dragging her inside were making things worse for her. The big wave surfer was near the shore, but she wasn’t able to overcome the intensity of the waves. 

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Her surfing companion Carlos Burle tried multiple times to pull her to the shore. He failed a few times but eventually managed to get her out of the water. Burle immediately gave her CPR, and then she was hospitalized soon. “I was throwing up. I mean, it took a long time in my brain to come back,” Gabeira told Stabmag.com after gaining consciousness. 

The creepiest waves for a reason


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Nazaré in Portugal has been one of the most talked-about places for surfers. The waves of this region are considered to be very challenging. The waves have given a tough time to other surfing superstars like Garrett McNamara, Shane Dorian, and many more. Dorian revealed a tragic incident when the wave once snatched a little gal and her grandaddy straight off the beach.


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Maya was aware of the precarious nature of the waves and was preparing for a long time before stepping into the waters. She, along with her tow partner, Carlos Burle, spent two weeks of intense training before taking on the giant waves. But sometimes being ready isn’t enough as one cannot challenge the limits of mother nature.

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Written by:

Shivam Sharma


One take at a time

Shivam Sharma is a US Sports author for EssentiallySports. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism, he has previously worked as a writer and an anchor for Navbharat Today, penning down and explaining issues around sports, politics, and international relations. He is an admirer of Virat Kohli for the passion that he brings to the field.
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Edited by:

Abhishek Kumar