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Close READER POLL 2017
We promise this won't (really) hurt.

Wanna win a new surfboard? We have a custom Chilli ‘Black Vulture’ to gift (plus all the trim you’d expect from a premium dealer). To be in the running, just answer a few questions for us. It won’t take long.

Maya Gabeira is the highest paid big wave surfer in the world

Words by Ali Klinkenberg

Breaking news: Brazilian big wave surfer Maya Gabeira has just signed with technical athletic apparel company Lululemon. Whoa, back up now, I know what you're thinking: who cares, right? Well you should care, because Lulu's an institution ($1.6 billion annual turnover!) and the signing pushes Maya's salary up. Waaay up. So far up in fact, that she's now the highest paid big wave surfer in the world. Cash money, y'all care about that.

MayaTwo Maya, nude and fabulous for ESPN's Body Issue. Photo: ESPN

Grant 'Twiggy' Baker is the reigning Big Wave World Tour champion. He is one of the best all-round big wave surfers on the planet. And, before getting picked up by Vissla in April of last year, Twig was without the support of a major sponsor. Twiggy told Stab that he "believe(s) that Maya Gabeira is the highest big wave surfer (in the world) right now, which could raise some eyebrows!" And that was before Lululemon. Stop and consider that for a minute, and pontificate what that means.

It means that unless you look pretty on a billboard, you're not cashing in on your big wave prowess. It makes perfect sense, really. Big Waves are generally filmed from afar, and the participants are just specks in the distance. The rider is usually identified by a spectator humming, "Is that Healey?" All you'd need to do is pay someone to hang around in the pineapple fields at Jaws shouting, "No! It's Maya!" And next thing you know, boom, big wave superstar. Pretty face, billboards, beautiful. The whole shabang.

Maya Gabeira is either most famous for nearly drowning at Nazare, or appearing nude in ESPN's body issue. And as we know, there's nothing like near-death and nudity to really get the mainstream media (and non-surf endemics) interested. And interested they were. Maya lists Red Bull, Renault, German cosmetics company Fa, phone company Nextel, Evoke sunglasses, and now Lululemon in her list of supporters. And that's not the only thing that's intriguing about Maya. Her dad Fernando Gabeira is supposedly a former member of Marxist guerrilla group MR-8, who kidnapped American ambassador Charles Elbrisk in 1969, and he also founded the Brazilian Green Party! God bless you Wikipedia, you mightn’t be the most factual of sources, but you sure are fabulous!

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