Stab Magazine | An error in judgement = the best wave of Greg Long's life

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An error in judgement = the best wave of Greg Long’s life

Words by Morgan Williamson | Photos by WSL  “Nearly losing my life was a straight up reality check,” Greg Long tells Stab. It’s been a little over three years since his near drowning at Cortes Bank in December of 2012. And to the public eye, Greg hasn’t slowed down. The man’s been at the forefront of big […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Words by Morgan Williamson | Photos by WSL 

“Nearly losing my life was a straight up reality check,” Greg Long tells Stab. It’s been a little over three years since his near drowning at Cortes Bank in December of 2012. And to the public eye, Greg hasn’t slowed down. The man’s been at the forefront of big wave progression since he first surfed Todos Santos at the age of 15. Now, in his early 30’s, he’s constantly revered as a man who requires a wheelbarrow to transport his testicular endowment.

So, how does a man who’s won the Eddie, stunt surfed and played a cameo in the Hollywood bio-pic Chasing Mavericks, and is the most decorated big wave surfer in history by Billabong’s XXL Big Wave Awards mentality change after flirting with the reaper? Three years later, the memory still haunts him. But Greg, being a man with a knack for motivational speaking on overcoming fear, sees the incident as a godsend. “It becomes the present situation every time I paddle out,” says Mr Long. “Not that I ever dismissed the consequences, but when you come that close it’s right in your face. It was actually the best thing that could have happened to me on so many levels, especially when it comes to listening to my intuition.”

Greg negotiating a Todos Santos mutant.

Over the recent sessions at Jaws, Greg’s been a standout. Most notably during the big wave event that’s made all subsequent competitions look like child’s play, the Pe’ahi Challenge, where he took third place. Mr Long pulled into one of, if not the heaviest closeout ever packed in BWT history. “There’s two sides of that wave to me,” Greg says soberly. “It was one of the biggest waves I’ve ever paddled, the most technically difficult and the biggest barrel I’ve ever been in. It was one of the the best waves I’ve ridden in my whole life.” With remorse Greg adds, “I also see it as being a huge mistake. I don’t take off on waves that I don’t think I can make, that was a risky situation.”

“It was a significant error in my judgement,” he continues. “In the moment you have to react and make your decision. It was so big and windy, by the time the spray from the last wave cleared I had a second to decide if I was going. I thought to myself, if I wait any longer I’m going to get caught at the top. If I can make it to the bottom I’m going to get barrelled, and if I get barrelled it could stay open and I might make it. But, the fact of the matter is, the best wave of your life is going to be the one you don’t know if you’re going to make. In that scenario, I knew it was a huge risk and was ready to take the chance, it had nothing to do with the contest, the skis or anything else. In hindsight, there was no chance of making that barrel. But in the moment you either take the chance or let it go and wonder for the rest of your life.”

Feathered lips, stiff winds and a tall drink of holy shit.

Since that fateful day in 2012, Greg’s approach to slaying triple-plus overhead dragons is calculated. He’s been noted as one the most prepared big wave surfers of all time. “Every session there’s life threatening consequences,” he says. “No matter how advanced the safety precautions are, you can still absolutely drown.” During his non-fatal drowning every safety measure was in place. When Greg went down he inflated his vest, which failed, and was sentenced to a four wave hold down courtesy of Cortes Bank. “It’s usually two or three waves before a ski can get to you anyways, you’re on your own until then.”

“These days as soon as I hit the water,” Greg says, “I know how I’m feeling and what I’m willing to put on the line that day. If I’m doubting anything I have no problem walking away from a session. Once upon a time I would take those feelings, dig deep to move against them and go out and get a wave. Four years ago, those feelings I would’ve seen as a challenge, a mental feat to overcome. A lot of amazing lessons and personal development has stemmed from that accident. For the longest time I wanted to push myself and see how big of a wave I could ride. Now, unless I’m feeling 100 percent, I’m not going.”


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