Even after he won the U.S. Open Men's Title at the NSSA National Championships as a senior in high school, Greg Long knew he wanted to dedicate his life to chasing big waves. Grinding out a tour was not his idea of surfing nirvana. Tackling giants was a progressive endeavor he began at the age of 15, and something he wanted to continue full time. "Everything else in my surfing life was just basically turned upside down," says Long in the video above. "Contests didn't matter. My performance surfing just kind of, you know, was dismissed. I knew then, big waves, that's my love and passion and that's what I'm going to dedicate my surfing life and career toward."
Long reveals more about surfing mutants in the video profile above by Xcel Wetsuits, which is packed with highlights of some of his most famous rides. Since committing to big waves, the San Clemente, California, native has racked up plenty of nominations and victories at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards. In 2009, he won the Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau. To understand what motivates Long, read "Swell Guy," by Matt Warshaw.
Here's a sample:
Long is familiar with every centimeter of his boards and can do basic maintenance on his jet skis. At his favorite big-wave breaks, he knows the topography, the currents, and how a 10-degree difference in swell angle will affect the takeoff and the inside bowl section. He knows the local surfers. What the hierarchy is. Who sits where in the lineup, who’s going to charge the set waves, who’s going to hair out. He gets along well with everybody. For all his intensity, he might be the least greedy, most patient pro surfer ever.
“Greg can sit there for hours at a time, just waiting,” says Evan Slater, a three-time finalist in the Maverick’s contest and a former Surfing magazine editor. “He’s way further out then the rest of us, kind of in his own zone, while everybody else is hassling, catching waves, paddling back out, talking. Sometimes you forget he’s even out there. But when Greg’s wave finally does come, everybody clears out. It’s his wave all the way.”
Long’s personal life is just as efficient and goal-driven. No drugs. Very little drinking or partying. (He’s sponsored by Peligroso tequila, but my guess is he doesn’t get through more than half a bottle a year.) No romantic drama. No family drama. This makes Long less exciting to talk to than his borderline-deranged predecessors but also uniquely suited to the mind games one must win to succeed at big-wave surfing. Surviving a monster wipeout is actually a kind of parlor trick....