After being named top female action sports athlete at the Teen Choice Awards, it seems Maya Gabeira is conquering more than just big waves. She has her eyes set on taking over the world.
Let’s get that one thing out of the way: Maya Gabeira is undeniably hot. The Brazilian big wave surfing bombshell makes grown men weak at the knees. But underestimate her at your peril: she’s also undeniably talented.
It was only nine years ago that she took up surfing and rode her first big wave not long after that. Today, she’s considered the best female big wave surfer in the world, won countless awards (including a recent 2010 Teen Choice Award for best female action sports athlete), and scours the internet all day long researching weather patterns and looking for storms, one of the sure-shot ways of finding big waves.
So when we heard that she was going to be in Huntington Beach to watch the US Open of Surfing, we immediately drove down from Red Bull Headquarters and sat down with her to catch up on the World of Maya.
What was it like when you first found out that you were nominated for a Teen Choice Award?
I was super stoked. It’s such a different award show. It’s more for celebrities and not athletes, for people in Hollywood and movies. But it’s pretty cool to just be out there and represent my sport.
Do you feel like a celebrity after being nominated?
No, I still feel like an athlete.
That’s good because most celebrities can barely get up in the morning, much less train like you do. What kind of training are you doing to get ready for those big waves?
Right now, I’m working with my trainer a lot in power training. I’m building up my stamina and working on my explosiveness. I also do a lot of yoga and some bike riding.
What events or waves are you looking forward to this season?
I’m just really waiting for something big in Tahiti. In the meantime, I’m always on stand-by, while I build to get my body stronger for the winter.
When you say “stand-by,” what do you mean?
I’m watching the maps and the forecast, looking for really big storms. We can predict where we can go by looking at the wind direction, to see how big the waves might get. If we think it’s big enough, we just fly in right before the big swell hits and just go to perform and get some footage down.
Did you always want to be a surfer when you were growing up?
I started surfing kind of late. I was 14 years old. I wasn’t really introduced to it as a sport, but once I found out about surfing I fell in love with it. I moved to Hawaii when I was 17, found a passion for big waves and I pursued it.
I tried surfing once and almost drowned, partly because I’m not a good swimmer. Can you tell me what it’s like to ride anything above 10 feet so I don’t have to go out and kill myself doing it?
It’s a lot of energy. The ocean is very intense with those kinds of waves. You just have to live the moment, full on, and just hope for the best. Put everything you have in there and just act instinctively. Hope you make the wave and don’t crash. It’s a great sensation.
I’m sure with those kinds of waves, you’ve broken a lot of surfboards. Have you broken any bones? Have you injured yourself at all?
I broke my nose 10 times. And the last time I broke it in, like, 12 pieces, so I had to get surgery. I have a lot of scars all over my body.
Where is your favourite place to surf?
It’s still Hawaii. I love Hawaii so much. There’s all different kind of waves at Waimea, Pipe, and Sunset. It’s special set up for sure. But my ideal day for surfing would be a big, perfect day at Waimea Bay.
There’s a lot of great food in Hawaii. How do you stay away from eating so much good food?
I cook at home a lot because I want to make sure I know what I’m eating. I cook shrimp a lot and some seafood. I also cook a lot of spaghetti, and make all kinds of wraps and salads.
Did you learn to cook from your parents?
I taught myself how to cook. I left home so young, and I wanted to be conscious about my eating. Plus I love cooking and spending time in the kitchen.
What do you do when you’re not surfing?
I love watching good movies, reading good books, doing yoga and hanging out with my friends.
Have you watched ‘Inception’ yet?
I haven’t seen it yet but it’s on top of my list. That movie and ‘Salt.’ I’m a big Angelina Jolie fan.
What do you listen to before you head out to the ocean?
I love hip hop. I listen to a lot of Jay Z and Alicia Keys. ‘Empire State of Mind’ and ‘Young Forever’ are currently my favourites.
Jay-Z made it big and you’re pretty much on your way there. So what’s your ultimate goal? What do you want to accomplish?
I really want to get into The Eddie, and I really want to get into the guys’ competition.