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  • Photo: Linny Morris

    Maya Gabeira

    The first time I saw a really big wave was at Waimea, at the Eddie Aikau invitational.

  • Photo: Linny Morris

    Maya Gabeira

    I was 17 and had just moved to Hawaii from Brazil. I wanted to live on my own.

  • Photo: Linny Morris

    Maya Gabeira

    I wanted to figure out who I was and what I really wanted in life. I knew that day that I wanted to surf those waves.

  • Photo: Linny Morris

    Maya Gabeira

    After a year of sitting in the lineup with the boys, I caught my first big one—maybe 15 feet—and everything just felt right. I was so focused and in the moment. I loved it.

  • Photo: Linny Morris

    Maya Gabeira

    Soon enough I was surfing big waves all over the world.

  • Photo: Linny Morris

    Maya Gabeira

    I ended up at Teahupoo, in Tahiti. I was really nervous.

  • Photo: Linny Morris

    Maya Gabeira

    I took two big wipeouts, either of which could have ended my career. But it didn't feel right to sit on my board and look stupid, to give up.

  • Photo: Linny Morris

    Maya Gabeira

    So my partner, Carlos Burle, towed me out again, and I caught one. People criticized me for taking those risks, for getting in over my head.

  • Photo: Linny Morris

    Maya Gabeira

    And yes, in the beginning I did take a lot of risks, but in the beginning you have to take those risks. How else do you make it? How else do you realize your dreams?

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