Brazilian surfer Maya Gabeira has revealed a confronting message she received from Kelly Slater before her incredible world record wave in 2020.
Gabeira broke her own world record for largest wave ever surfed by a female, riding a 22.4-metre monster in Nazare in Portugal.
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That ride broke the previous record that she also held of 20.8m, set in 2018.
However the incredible feat might not have come about if the 34-year-old had've listened to some brutal advice from her idol Slater.
Appearing on an episode of 'In Depth with Graham Bensinger' this week, Gabeira revealed how Slater had messaged her after a big-wave comp in Tahiti.
The 11-time world surfing champion allegedly told Gabeira that she was putting herself and others at risk by doing what she was doing.
“Kelly felt like he saw me almost dying in Tahiti on a huge, huge, huge day,” she said.
“He felt very convinced that I was out of place, shouldn’t be there, didn’t have the skills.
“He thought it was too big for him or he wanted to save himself for a competition, but it was probably the biggest ever surfed in Teahupo’o … maybe it was too big for me. I was very scared, I can tell you. And things did go wrong.
“He said (on Twitter) something on the lines of, ‘You are unprepared. You are endangering people around you when they have to go in and rescue in such scenarios. I think if you continue to do what you’re doing, you’re gonna die. So I highly suggest you stop’.”
How criticism helped shape Gabeira's career
American surfing great Laird Hamilton expressed similar sentiments in 2013, but Gabeira has a powerful message for him and Slater.
“They had their points. They could have been more fortunate the way that they passed it on to me, but it was a different era too. It was a different time. I think women were treated differently back then,” she said.
“It wasn’t as discussed, our role and our place in society. I think a lot has changed and it was what it was. It made me who I am, so I’m OK with it.
“When you’re an amateur, they don’t see you as a threat. When you turn professional … you start becoming a threat because you start getting media space, sponsorship space - and that’s money that is being relocated, right?
"So, at some point you can ask yourself, would that be to the man if a woman wasn’t here?
“I was discouraged by the environment all the time.”
Gabeira said she isn't interested in speaking to Slater or Hamilton again, saying their words helped transform her career.
The 34-year-old is considered one of the best and most influential surfers of her time and won an ESPY award for Best Female Action Sports Athlete in 2009.
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