Maya Gabeira says Nazaré "feels like home." The Brazilian charger who nearly lost her life in the Portuguese surf break is back in the Canyon to negotiate a new beginning.
Only a big wave surfer knows the feeling. And Gabeira is pretty much comfortable in a testosterone-fuelled outdoor activity. She loves surfing monster waves, and she will do it while she cans.
In 2013, Maya fell in love with Nazaré. Even after the near-drowning accident that took place on the 28th October. The ocean was powerful; maybe not furious or angry. The surfer from Rio de Janeiro knew she had to return to the fishing village.
Gabeira was criticized for being an unprepared woman in a men's territory, but she simply focused on her physical and mental rehabilitation. In 2014, Maya treated her wounds and got back to her favourite environment. Initially waves, later big waves.
The Brazilian never hid her main career goal: to return to the Nazaré Lighthouse and ride, once again, one of the biggest waves of all time. Hopefully, in 2015, Maya Gabeira will pick a clean, perfect-peeling wave.
Her smile watching the surf from above says it all. This time, Maya Gabeira is more trained to tackle the liquid beasts. With the guiding tips provided by Garrett McNamara and the omnipresence of her long-term coach Carlos Burle, she is eager to do it.
"I've tried a few waves. Nothing too big. It was good to get the jet ski and the new surfboard on the water and to understand how we will get the safety plan running. It's paramount to arrive early," Gabeira told the Portuguese TV station TVI.
"I had a lot to recover from. I had to work hard and needed a lot of patience to return here. It was a big scare that left me with a few wounds. But it was a life experience that I had to go through. It happened, and now I have to move on."
"I have always feared and respected big waves. And that is what makes us want to evolve, improve safety standards, and find better gear. It all comes from the fear and respect we have for the sea and for this dangerous sport."
Armed with surfboards shaped by Gerry Lopez, the intrepid Maya is ready for Praia do Norte, and its North Canyon wave. Steady as she goes. Nazaré, take two.