Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Brazil's 'perfect 10' surfing pioneer

June 20, 2013 -- Updated 0353 GMT (1153 HKT)
Flying the flag for Brazil
Flying the flag for Brazil
Flying the flag for Brazil
Flying the flag for Brazil
Flying the flag for Brazil
Flying the flag for Brazil
Flying the flag for Brazil
Flying the flag for Brazil
Flying the flag for Brazil
Flying the flag for Brazil
  • Silvana Lima is the only Brazilian on the women's surfing world tour
  • Lima was the first to register a perfect score of 10 in female competition in 2005
  • Her style is progressive and dynamic and she's regularly watched by other professionals
  • She has twice finished runner-up on the ASP World Championship Tour

CNN's Human to Hero series celebrates inspiration and achievement in sport. Click here for show times, videos and features.

(CNN) -- She's a perfect 10; the surfer that other professionals will drag themselves out of the water to watch.

But it is the satisfaction of being able to help her family that ranks as Silvana Lima's proudest achievement.

The diminutive Brazilian, twice a runner-up on the women's World Tour, is seen as a pioneer in her sport who is still pushing the boundaries at the age of 28.

That talent has taken her round the globe and offered rewards that she has been able to divert back to her family in the north western state of Ceara.

"Surfing has helped me a lot," the sole Brazilian representative of the elite 17 competitors on the women's tour told CNN's Human to Hero series. "My success was the fact that I was able to help out others.

"To have been able to leave my hometown, and being able to help out my family, who didn't have good enough conditions to eat, to study.

"Surfing was amazing; it arrived in the best moment for me. It took me away from my hometown and got me where I am today.

"I already helped my Mom, gave her a house and helped my brother a lot."

Read: Gebrselassie: I will run until I die

After becoming besotted with the sport at the age of five, Lima's path to the elite level was clearly defined ever since she eschewed a possible career in soccer to focus on surfing.

And that decision was vindicated when she became the first woman to ever record a perfect score of 10 for her ride during a competition in Hawaii in 2005.

"It's a wonderful memory," she explains. "It was my first wave and it was Honolulu Bay in Hawaii. I managed to be on the first beautiful, beautiful wave.

Human to Hero: Haile Gebrselassie
Gilmore: Surfing can be feminine
Speed skater: Strength isn't enough

"I remember I dropped down -- I still have that image in my mind today -- entering the tube and pumping, pumping, pumping. It was a great maneuver. I knew then that it was going to be a 10."

Read: 'Beauty is a woman riding a wave'

Lima has since gone on to record two more perfect rides to enhance the reputation she holds for a progressive, all-action style that even her peers find intoxicating.

Full of dynamic set-pieces, Lima spends a healthy portion of her competition performances tucked in the barrel of a wave or using it as a ramp to propel her into the air -- a move known as an aerial.

"It's a very hard maneuver to execute, because you are just taking off from a wave with the board under your feet and you land," Lima said.

"It's very difficult and you have various types of aerials. It's my favorite because it took me a long time to learn that maneuver. The feeling that you get from taking off from a wave and completing that maneuver is wonderful.

"After the aerial, the barrel is the best. You feel like you are in your mother's womb -- it's special.

"In the barrel you are inside the wave and you see that image in front of you, the door of the barrel for you to exit and you feel like, 'Wow, I'm inside the barrel.'

"You stay there just riding it and when you leave you feel like it was the best maneuver you have ever made."

Read: Swim sensation - I almost drowned

As competition surfing continues to evolve, more and more professionals are taking the aerial route.

But as surfers strive for greater heights by taking on moves of greater complexity, the danger is increased and, in turn, the risk of injury -- a topic Lima knows all about.

Teen swimming sensation: I hate losing
Lady weightlifter challenges stereotypes
Skating star's thrill of the dance

She spent the whole of the 2012 season on the sidelines after tearing her anterior cruciate ligament during a competition on the Gold Coast in Australia.

It meant a third bout of similar surgery and an exhaustive rehabilitation process, though she did receive an injury wild card to compete on the 2013 Tour.

"I remember all three moments, all three surgeries and it's not a very good memory," she said. "I feel sad and happy at the same time because I've got through it and that makes me feel good but to remember how it all happened is bad.

"(The most recent injury) was turning around while doing a maneuver and while my body was twisting, my leg remained in the same position, so I basically just twisted my body.

Brazil's best beaches

"When you have pain in your knee or anywhere else in your body, you want to get back into the water to do what you have always done, to give 100%.

"I want it to stop there and not have any more surgeries, to feel 100% by doing everything right: gym, physiotherapy, good diet, sleep well, be a complete professional!

"I think if I do everything right, God won't let those things happen to me again."

Though Lima has been part of the fabric of the women's tour for a decade, she is still more than holding her own against much younger competitors and proudly flying the flag for Brazil.

"My biggest dream is to be world champion," Lima said. "It's really important for me to be here among the best surfers in the world -- the only Brazilian. I'm really happy and proud of myself, and want to keep on improving."

Part of complete coverage on
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Olof Mellberg never lived out his childhood tennis fantasy, but he did achieve something millions of football fans around the world can only imagine.
April 16, 2014 -- Updated 1039 GMT (1839 HKT)
Sweden's former captain Olof Mellberg on his international career, the World Cup and enjoying the game more with age.
April 9, 2014 -- Updated 1117 GMT (1917 HKT)
If you're aiming to land a top job at the world's most famous financial district, it might help to take up a sport -- but perhaps not the one you're thinking of.
April 2, 2014 -- Updated 1349 GMT (2149 HKT)
He travels in private jets and is one of the world's highest-paid athletes, but Fernando Alonso does not forget his humble beginnings.
March 27, 2014 -- Updated 1211 GMT (2011 HKT)
Being blind has not stopped Verity Smith. The singer has starred on stage and written a book -- but she's most at home on a horse.
March 19, 2014 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
Tai Woffinden's arms, hands, face, neck and shoulders are adorned with tattoos. But most revealing is the portrait of his late father on his back.
March 12, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
He established himself as one of the most famous American players in European basketball history -- and is still cooking up a storm.
March 5, 2014 -- Updated 1314 GMT (2114 HKT)
Sebastien Foucan has proved even more elusive than his acrobatic bomb-maker who was eventually blown away in "Casino Royale."
February 26, 2014 -- Updated 1435 GMT (2235 HKT)
Imagine hurtling down a mountain at 60 miles an hour. Now imagine doing it virtually blind. For Kelly Gallagher, it's a thrilling reality.
February 19, 2014 -- Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)
Having suffered bitter disappointment on the running track, Jana Pittman is finding peace on ice at the Winter Games in Sochi.
February 12, 2014 -- Updated 1341 GMT (2141 HKT)
Sochi is preparing for an Olympic invasion -- but perhaps it didn't expect a former Soviet soldier to be leading the charge.
February 6, 2014 -- Updated 1308 GMT (2108 HKT)
The words no athlete wants to hear: "You can't ski anymore. Racing is finished for you." But, luckily for her, Fanny Smith refused to believe her doctor.
January 29, 2014 -- Updated 1259 GMT (2059 HKT)
"Blood was coming out of every hole in my body and I was completely unconscious," says French daredevil Xavier de Le Rue.
January 22, 2014 -- Updated 1510 GMT (2310 HKT)
Jenna McCorkell has been dancing on a knife edge since first representing her country at the age of 10. "How ice skating is evolving, it's insane."
January 16, 2014 -- Updated 2204 GMT (0604 HKT)
As power couples go, Gerard Pique and Shakira have the sparkle to supersede even Posh and Becks. But a bundle of joy means most to them.