Brazilian surfing icon Maya Gabeira has revealed American legend Kelly Slater advised her to quit the sport, suggesting she was endangering herself and others by competing in challenging conditions.
Speaking on an episode of In Depth with Graham Bensinger, which is set to air this weekend, big-wave surfer Gabeira discussed the impact sexism in the sport had on her emotional wellbeing throughout an illustrious career.
Last year, the 34-year-old broke the world record for the largest wave surfed by a female, riding a 22.4m swell in Nazare, Portugal.
But Gabeira never would have achieved the feat if she followed the brash advice of childhood hero Slater.
The Brazilian claims she received a Twitter message from Slater after one of her big-wave pursuits in Tahiti, the 11-time world champion telling her she would die if she persisted.
"Kelly felt like he saw me almost dying in Tahiti on a huge, huge, huge day," Gabeira explained. "He felt very convinced that I was out of place, shouldn't be there, didn't have the skills.
"He thought it was too big for him or he wanted to save himself for a competition, but it was probably the biggest ever surfed in Teahupo'o … maybe it was too big for me. I was very scared, I can tell you. And things did go wrong.
"He said (on Twitter) something on the lines of, 'You are unprepared. You are endangering people around you when they have to go in and rescue in such scenarios. I think if you continue to do what you're doing, you're gonna die. So I highly suggest you stop'."
Meanwhile, American great Laird Hamilton made similar remarks on national television in 2013, claiming Gabeira didn't have the skill set to surf in certain conditions after she nearly drowned in Nazare.
Gabeira said she has no interest in future conversations with Slater or Hamilton, suggesting their criticism helped shape her career.
"They had their points. They could have been more fortunate the way that they passed it on to me, but it was a different era too. It was a different time. I think women were treated differently back then," she said.
"It wasn't as discussed, our role and our place in society. I think a lot has changed and it was what it was. It made me who I am, so I'm OK with it.
"When you're an amateur, they don't see you as a threat. When you turn professional … you start becoming a threat because you start getting media space, sponsorship space — and that's money that is being relocated, right? So, at some point you can ask yourself, would that be to the man if a woman wasn't here?
"I was discouraged by the environment all the time."
Gabeira started surfing in her early teens in Rio de Janeiro, but was inspired to go pro while living in Australia as a teenager.
She quickly emerged as the world's best female big wave surfer and has racked up countless trophies at the Big Wave Awards.