Big-wave surfer Maya Gabeira was pulled from the water unconscious Monday after falling while attempting the drop on an enormous wave at Nazaré, Portugal.
The wave buried her for several seconds initially, and she was overcome several times afterward by surging whitewater. Were it not for a relentless rescue effort by her tow-surfing partner, Carlos Burle, Gabeira almost certainly would have drowned.
Instead, she's recovering with only a broken ankle, presumably somewhat humbled by the experience.
"Thank you for caring… a broken ankle, but nothing more!" she wrote Monday on her Facebook page. "I'm recovering well. Please continue cheering."
The top footage shows the wipeout on a wave with a face of perhaps 70 feet. The drop was simply too fast and the wave face was too bumpy for Gabeira to be able to maintain balance.
A Portuguese news report (posted below) shows the wipeout and the prolonged rescue effort, during which Gabeira grabs onto the rescue rope and is dragged through the water, when another surge of whitewater overcomes her and causes her to let go of the rope.
It's remarkable that she survived given the amount of time she spent being dragged through the churning water, face-down.
Ultimately, she was hauled onto the beach unconscious, and rushed to a nearby hospital.
The massive swell attracted several of the world's top big-wave surfers. Wave faces measured 60 to 80 feet.
Gabeira is one of only a few woman brave enough–some might say foolish enough–to attempt to ride such large and dangerous surf.
Bill Sharp, director of the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards, described Gabeira's wave as "easily the biggest wave any woman has tried to ride."
Yes, she will be a finalist, and probably a sure winner, in the XXL's Wipeout-of-the-Year category.
–Photo of Maya Gabeira is via her Facebook page
–To see more clips from the massive swell at Navare, visit the Billabong XXL Facebook page