The evolution of big wave surfing has introduced a plethora of discussion topics, from who snags the biggest wave of each year to how we categorize rides that end in absolute destruction for a committed surfer. Does slingshotting into the biggest peak supersede paddling into the steepest and deepest takeoff? Where does the heaviest critical wave face stand against larger waves with an open shoulder to escape? The debates are a testament to just how high the performance bar sits in 2020, now decades after we started watching in awe as pioneers like Laird Hamilton towed into monsters from behind a jet ski.
According to Portugal-based videographer Jorge Leal, one worthy debate comes in examining two of last season’s rides at Nazaré, one being Kai Lenny’s award-winning performance at the Nazaré Tow Surfing Challenge and the other from Maya Gabeira on the same day.
“In my opinion, Maya’s wave was the biggest of the year,” Leal tells The Inertia with a side-by-side video comparison. “The line she drew shows a huge commitment, risking her life on an unprecedented wave. I witnessed and filmed all of the biggest waves this season and hers was the biggest.”