Maya Gabeira Survives

After almost drowning at Nazaré, Gabeira is in stable condition in Portugal

| posted on October 28, 2013

In surf of the XXL variety at Nazaré, the big-wave break in Portugal, Maya Gabeira nearly drowned when she wiped out and was consumed by an avalanche of water. The video below shows Carlos Burle attempting to rescue Gabeira on his jet ski on the inside; After a number of failed attempts to get her on the sled, Gabeira was forced to grab on to the tow rope and was engulfed by two more sets. The footage shows Gabeira unconscious and face down in the water before she’s finally rescued by Burle, who took her to shore and administered CPR. From there she was transported to a hospital, where she’s now in stable condition. Gabeira posted this photo to her Facebook from the a Portuguese hospital this morning.

  • Rothery

    Awesome that Burle saved her and that he rode the biggest one as his just reward!!!

  • Jack’o

    heavy! props for carlos and maya!

  • Daniel

    Maya having the treshold of a female body tested.

  • cadafau

    Maya we love you. This is just a scary, scary video.

  • Geoff RightCoast

    looks super heavy. Burle with a big set of balls not only in those waves but jumping in to save Maya. Glad everyone came home safe

  • Jimmy the Saint

    I’m glad that Maya is still alive, but to claim that she survived is maybe giving her a little too much credit, she drowned and due to the heroics of Carlos she was saved. Survival (maybe I am wrong) to means being instrumental in preserving your own life. Hope she makes a speedy recovery and that I am not too pedantic
    Jimmy the Saint

    • Craig Graham

      Too much credit?? Really?? Look at the video…she was conscious…raises her arm to signal rescue and then Carlos slams her with the raft, then drags her through the water face down too fast instead of getting her on the raft…she get’s hit by another wave, then he circles back and jumps in to save her after he basically drowned her!! She would have been fine if there was a lifeguard working.

      • HellsYeahs

        Wow you really haven’t a clue what you are talking about.

      • Mannc999

        ^ Agreed above, The one benefit of doubt I would Carlos was maybe he thought she wasn’t holding to the rope or would let go? He really had no choice at that point or the ski would have been swamped.

      • Rui Manique Marques

        Until you have actually been to praia do norte in Nazare, you have no idea how difficult a rescue is there. Theory does not apply there. You have to improvise. I grew up 30 minutes from Nazare and the degree of risk, danger and difficulty there is just overwhelming. Make no mistake, it is one of the most dangerous places to be in the water. That inside is just one gigantic turmoil whirlpool of foam, at places a few feet high on the surface of the water. And she was on the brink of exhaustion and couldn’t get on the sled. Had he stopped the Ski to try to pull her up, they would both have drowned in the 6 foot foam. If he had not done what he did, they would both most probably be dead now. And there was a lifeguard there who took over on CPR when they got to the beach.

      • Jimmy the Saint

        That post I put up was ill considered in light of the video, which I hadn’t seen. I was under the impression from one of the articles that I had read that she had passed out whilst under water from the first wipeout. So I was a bit harsh saying that she wasn’t instrumental in surviving, she clearly was.

  • tillish Bazooka


  • Jorge Martins de Carvalho Jr.

    CARLOS BURLE with a lot of balls and guts , saved MAYA ´s life . GREAT WATERMAN !

  • SurfSoCal

    stoked that everyone made it out alive. such a heavy situation.
    on another note though, those of you commenting about how she didnt actually “survive” based on the definition of survival or how there should be a second person manning the ski, should shut up and just appreciate that no one died.

  • john

    He did nothing wrong in that situation. Looked like he actually did a great job. He cant just go in, hang out, jump off and grab her and put her on the sled, when waves are coming at you. If he swamped the sled they would have been in even more trouble. Notice at the end how he gunned the sled and they grabbed the rope and got pulled to shore? He knows exactly what hes doing.

  • Tony B

    That was a scary situation. Dragging her by the rope that fast was dangerous but get why he had to stay ahead of the waves. Just so glad she survived.

  • Axel Foley

    Carlos Burle is the man, he represents Brazil very well !

  • surfergirl19

    Agree with ScoobyDude, and should always rescue with the ski facing the waves! Waves are unpredicatable, he did great to eventually get her and save her life but it could have been handled a lot better on the ski. A crew person on back of the sled would have been the best way

    • kdub

      you cant face the waves when the waves are that size. You have to gun it and outrace the 20ft wall of water coming at you. This isnt a 4ft beach break.

    • dougie

      I can’t believe you can sit on your little ar$e and criticize a hero. By this time she was so tired it didn’t matter where he approached from, she didn’t have the strength to get on the sled and being so far from shore he couldn’t have kept them both afloat if he had just jumped in at first. The ski is the best means of getting her to a place where he could get in to save her.

  • Tim Just

    Does he run her over at 0:18??

    • HellsYeahs

      No. Watch ANY heavy water ski pickup. You have to get next to the swimmer so they can grab on. What folks don’t understand is that the ski’s can bog down in all that white water because it’s full of oxygen. You really need to keep the ski moving or else it’s useless. Then you have 2 people in trouble with a large metal object getting thrown around them.
      Scary stuff.

    • bill555

      More like slams the sled into her… but it IS a tense moment…he came in really hot seeing she was down and probably underestimated how much the foam would affect his drift.

  • IgnoranceIsNotBliss

    Burle drowned Maya. He is ignorant of basic lifesaving skills on a PWC. “Here Maya, grab this rope while I gun the boat.” I am ashamed that people see him as a hero. Maya had a better chance of survival without him.

    • danieusam

      You could do better… ok, hero!!!!

  • Mike B

    How about this woman not get a 3rd chance?

  • Matthew Miller

    Glad Maya is ok. She was so close to shore but Carlos said vision is hard amongst all the foam. Watching the Video it seems the rope pulled her under and got a lung full of water. Very scary. I know from surf lifesaving one man and two man rescue on inflatable rescue boats takes many hours of practice, which is meant to be constant each season. One man rescue is the most difficult on any craft in the surf. Suggest having another inflatable device to hand people if cant pick them up quickly with oncoming waves..usually bright colour and very a better second chance, particularly if more than one person needs rescue. All good this time.

  • Ztrois

    Burle and Maya are a waterlegends… Congrats

  • dave

    Guys unless you tow yourselves I doubt any of you have ever been been in any situation such as this. it’s easy to place blame as an armchair critic but Carlos saved Maya. Situations such as this are fluid and changing second by second- it might not have been pretty but he saved her and that’s all that matters

  • Jason

    Armchair criticism is mostly worthless, but I see the point. Would love to see commentary from others (a very select few) who have actually faced these conditions. No doubt in my mind that Burle did his best and deserves some credit, but it’s very possible it could have been handled better. Heavy situation and the bottom line is Maya survived and lives to fight another day.

  • Sam

    Glad Maya is ok and props to Burle for saving her. However, she has been in this situation more than once and puts others in danger trying to save her… maybe she doesn’t have the skill to ride waves like these.

  • kdub

    Anyone praising Maya here needs a reality check. She almost died at Chopes less than 2 years ago. She does not have the skill or strength to be riding waves like this. The guys she is towing with are some of the best in the world and she simply is not on par skill-wise with them. She is putting herself and whoever is towing that day at risk. Waves like this have killed much better surfers than her and she needs a reality check.

  • dante rondo

    Wow this critical event really brought on a sea of comments ! The one strange comment i heard was Laird Hamilton’s comment on CNN interview : “That Maya had no business being out there” This seems like a chauvinistic statement from one of the worlds great watermen. I mean this could have also happened to a man…Right ? (It certainly would have happened to me if i got in that situation ! I would not have had Maya’s stamina ! ) So Laird with all respect…Got over yourself and admit that women such as Maya and Keala Kennedy can charge big waves with the best of the guys !

    • dougie

      Firstly women can be as good or better than men surfing and Maya is a good surfer and has a lot of bravado but I think Laird’s comment has to do with his knowledge of her past incidences of getting into trouble. I think in an effort to be as brave and good as the “boys” she surfs areas above her ability to survive. This gets her and others trying to help her into trouble.

  • Albrecht

    I think we’ll find that Maya was injured in the wipeout. Her strength seems to be zapped as Carlos comes in with the sled. They are a Solid big wave Duo: highly accomplished. Practice is what they do. Something is definitely off. She was injured. Speedy recovery Maya, Blessings Mother Mary, Baby Jesus, and St. Benedict

  • Albrecht

    I paddled, well, I tried to paddle out during Hurricane Floyd on a fish with a comp leash, when the storm was still approaching. Huge ground swell, huge on-shores, huge surge. So, it looked in all reality very similar at the third break I got to like where Mr. Burle jumped in to grab Maya. I was Praying immediately, when I got past that size and approached the first of the 6-8 foot white water, the power was unimaginable. Then a wave face brown, striated with foam stood up so huge and fast I had to ditch. I felt the slightest resistance and my lifeline went bouncing and flipping through the air all the way to shore. My point is this: It felt to me that day, like Nazare WAS to them this Day. I think I truly have the truer spirit of Surfing in my heart when I say: Prayer is totally warranted and wanted by people in these situations. You want the full clout of Jesus and His Boys with you. Scoff if you will, just do it after offering a prayer for those Really riding big waves, and those of us who where convinced we were at the time. Christ Jesus Bless you Maya, Carlos, and all surfers, Amen.

  • pablo

    i think its not good idea with the rope she eat o lot of water because of it and 2 waterpatrols it’s a must, we are very glad she survive

  • dougie

    It isn’t often one actually sees a hero in action, this is it right here, period…. This is a life saved by this man, nothing else can be said, HERO.


    In the end, if you’re not suitably prepared with your water skills, crew technique and personal understanding of the wave then Laird is right. Any fool can go out and get themselves in the same situation where they are face down and drowning. But it takes that upper echelon of experience to succeed in that environment. Would Maya do it again… Sure !
    Would she do exactly the same next time or plan it better..?
    Certainly Maya would do it better because her previous efforts in big surf show she’s not capable of surviving a wave on her own.
    How many times can she skirt with death and rely on others to save her until her luck matches her skills ?
    I wish her no ill but its not her first near death experience in waves beyond her abilities.