Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Maya's Passion

Maya Gabeira's near drowning at Nazare, off the coast of Portugal, on Monday has been well publicized and documented. Certainly, the images of her floating face down in the surf, her tow partner Carlos Burle leaping from his PWC to pull her out of the water, and being administered CPR on shore are together disturbing. She's lucky to have only sustained a broken ankle from this harrowing experience.

Not surprisingly, many others feel the same way. One of my favorite surfing websites,, posted the following question on Twitter yesterday to engage those who saw, heard or otherwise have an opinion on risking one's life to surf giant waves:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>We&#39;ve watched Maya Gabeira almost die surfing big waves twice in two years. Should she stop? <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; The Inertia (@the_inertia) <a href="">October 29, 2013</a></blockquote>
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Note: if the tweet didn't embed properly, posed the question: "We've watched Maya Gabeira almost die surfing big waves twice in two years. Should she stop?"

There's no doubt that what Maya, Carlos and many other big wave chargers do is dangerous. Quite frankly, it's a miracle not more people have died trying. But by directly or indirectly questioning her decision to continue pursuing her dream is ludicrous. It isn't up to or any of its readers to decide whether Maya should stop chasing big waves. This more than a job. This is her passion; it's how she defines herself. Yes, it's dangerous. Yes, people have died and she's come close twice now. I'm sure she's fully aware of the risks and consequences of her decisions. And I'm pretty sure she battles fear when she's out there, particularly when she lets go of the rope and commits to outrunning an avalanche of water.

I'm going to guess that she would prefer NOT to die while surfing giant waves so I think it's fair to assume she'll do everything she can to prepare herself for these life threatening conditions. This requires year round physical and mental training. Weights, cardio and breathing training. Nutrition, sports psychology and scenario planning. PWC driving, First Aid, swell forecasting. All these and more I suspect are a part of her weekly routine. Her sponsors, friends and fellow chargers provide the necessary support to enable this preparation and the pursuit of her dream. Unfortunately, her near drownings are a part of the experience. Any less preparation and we'd be likely mourning the loss of another big wave surfer.

We should be envious and not judgmental of her dedication to this dangerous sport and her decision to pursue it with a 100% commitment.

Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy.