After HBO's '100 Foot Wave': The Rise Of Maya Gabeira

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Lindsay Cronin

Maya Gabeira may have broken a number of records as a surfer but a 2013 incident at Praia do Norte, a beach in Portugal that is known for its massive waves, nearly took her life.

According to a report from CNN in April, the HBO star nearly drowned at the time and was left to undergo three spine surgeries and nearly five years of rehabilitation.

Although Gabeira set two records at the site of her near-death experience, the 2013 incident, which took place as she rode her biggest wave yet, left her with numerous injuries.

Maya Gabeira Sustained A Broken Ankle And Was Knocked Unconscious

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In addition to breaking her ankle, the "100 Foot Wave" actress was knocked unconscious as she was tossed about by swirling waters until her jet ski rider, surfer Carlos Burle, was able to get to her and take her to the beach for CPR.

"I had a lot of doctors telling me to stop because of the difficulties they had dealing with my spine and the uncertainty that continuing the sport at a high level would have on my future health," Gabeira recalled.

Although the outlook on the future of her surfing career looked bleak just eight years ago, Gabeira has since returned to the sport and continued to break records.

Maya Gabeira Had A New Outlook On Surfing After Her Accident

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Following her devastating injuries, Gabeira moved to a fishing village north of Lisbon called Nazaré to focus on getting back to what she loved most about surfing.

While she certainly looked at the sport in a different light after her accident, she said she was also humbled by what happened.

"It humbled me a lot," Gabeira shared. "It showed me how much I didn't have everything under control and organized, and how much more I had to improve. But more than that, it really detached me from achievements -- which is funny, because then I did get two world records after it ... but that was never the priority."

Maya Gabeira Used To Be A Dancer

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Before taking up the craft of surfing many years ago, Gabeira was raised in Brazil, where she was serious about her career in dancing from the ages of five and 12.

Although none of Gabeira's family were surfers, she took a quick interest in the sport and ultimately chose to dive head-first, literally, into life on the water.

"I always thought from the beginning that surfing was a very addictive sport," she said, adding that many things drew her to the sport.

Maya Gabeira Wanted To Represent Women In The Sport

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"The lifestyle and the sensations, the feelings, the challenge, and the fact that the ocean was always different, the wave was always different. It never felt like you had it," Gabeira explained of the hobby. "I admired the guys and the boys that would be out there on big days, I admired their bravery and I thought that was something I wanted to see portrayed in women more."

So, what's a girl to do?

"I think that unconsciously really drove me ... I felt there needed to be a woman doing that. I wanted to be that person," she added.