Maya Gabeira in Rio.jpg

Brazilian Maya Gabeira won her fifth Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Award last Friday after beating Americans Paige Alms, Keala Kennelly and Savannah Shaughnessy…

Maya Gabeira had already won four Billabong XXL awards in a row between 2007 and 2010, but the 25-year-old says this year's victory was extra special. She picked up her gong at the awards ceremony in Anaheim, California.

"This has been the best year ever in women's surfing," said Maya. "I am very honoured to win this award because the sport has evolved so much. I've been coming here for six years now and usually there are one or two standouts. This time the level was so much higher with all five nominees being solid entries."

Nathan Fletcher, who was profiled in Surfer in January, took home the award for Ride of the Year after conquering the monster swells of Teahupoo, Tahiti, on August 27, 2011.

"I didn't expect that from myself," said Fletcher. "The wave at Teahupoo was pure fate. Somehow it just popped up and I was the one who got it. Somehow, I'm not sure how, maybe Sion [Milosky, the former award winner who drowned in 2011] gave it to me. I can't believe it. I guess it is a result of all the hard work and I'm very appreciative of that."

Photos © Carlos Serrao / Red Bull Content Pool

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