I'm Not Touching You! - Stab Mag
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I’m Not Touching You!

Maya Gabeira finds an intriguing loophole to Portugal’s ominous “surf” ban.

style // Dec 11, 2020
Words by Zack Raffin
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Siblings will know this feeling well.

After hours of torturing one another, an agitated mother finally separates her kids, declaring, “No touching!”

But telling a kid ‘no touching’ is like telling Ashton Goggans not to don a beanie at the first sign of autumn. It’s just not gonna work.

In case you missed it, the Portuguese National Health Commission put a ban on “free and tow-in” surfing at the famous A-frame as of November 4th (last Wednesday). While lockdowns due to COVID-19 have been implemented across Europe, Portugal has justifiable cause for concern. The wave at Nazaré, which is widely considered the epicenter of big-wave tow-surfing, is likely the world’s most accessible amphitheater for those looking to take in the action. The historic Halloween swell drove more spectator attention to the wave than ever before, bringing what some estimated to be tens of thousands into close quarters on the cliff and beach. 

While the United States seems to have placed a short-term hold on global health and safety to either celebrate or protest the election, the fact of the matter is Europe doesn’t fuck around when it comes to COVID. So what’s one to do when an authority figure tells them no touching? I guess this.

@maya’s caption from Nov 9: Monday is a good day!

See that headland in the background? Looks familiar, no? That’s because it’s Praia do Norte (aka Nazaré). And Maya Gabeira has figured out the surfing equivalent of the finger-extended-one-inch-away-from-your-face strategy*—I’m not touching [you/the ocean].

I mean, what can the government say? From what I can garner, at no point did they say no foiling at Nazaré. We have to hand it to her—she’s not on land, not in the water, and we doubt Portugal is willing to scramble the jets to defend their surf ban.

Foiling is a divisive subject. We posted this clip of Matahi Drollet last week to a polarized reception, with people commenting vehemently both for and against. We’ve all seen “those foilers” before. The people either foiling at the absolute wrong waves (talking to you, El Porto foiler) or those who foil at a wave far too crowded, posing a danger to others that is not justified by any amount of “glide”.

Unless your name is Matahi or Kai, I don’t really care to watch foiling. But used as a loophole to slither out of a surfing ban, well, we must applaud Maya’s creativity. At least she doesn’t have to worry about thousands gathering to watch in excitement… that is until Kai does some monstrous backflip and shuts me up. 

There’s another big swell coming to Nazaré later this week. Let’s see if the surf ban gets lifted like Maya’s flying saucer or remains staunchly in place. 

*It’s very possible that this clip was filmed prior to Nazaré’s surfing ban. Maya has not responded to our request for comment. 

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