Gary Linden Thumbs Nose At Establishment Again, Runs Only Big-Wave Comp Of 2024* - Stab Mag

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Greg Long, not the winner but certainly a winner in general.

Gary Linden Thumbs Nose At Establishment Again, Runs Only Big-Wave Comp Of 2024*

Watch Kaitie McConnell and Cody Purcell win the inaugural Thriller at Killers

cinema // Mar 28, 2024
Words by August Howell
Reading Time: 2 minutes

The oft-neglected stepchild of northern hemi big waves pulled a fast one on its more high-profile siblings this winter. 

With no contests at Waimea, Jaws and Maverick’s this winter (sorry, leaving the tow comp at Nazare out), Killers was the only big-wave locale that hosted an official surf contest with jerseys, judges and scores this past winter, which was billed to a productive El Niño year.

Warranted or not, the aforementioned peaks typically get more glory during large North Pacific swell benders than the peak off Baja’s Todos Santos Island. But on its day, the place is still backbreaking. Or in the case of Coco Nogales, pelvis shattering. 

The inaugural Thriller at Killers invitational that ran on Feb. 18 was by no means as good as it gets, but the (mildly) clean walls were a welcome sight for XXL OG Gary Linden, who organized the contest. The above highlight reel captures the men’s and women’s highlights from the semis onward. 

In the women’s final, Katie McConnell of Encinitas outscored Jaws GOAT Paige Alms and Maverick’s savant Bianca Valenti. McConnell was Red Bull Magnitude’s Rookie of the Year in 2022 and runs a surf school in her hometown. 

In the men’s division, Manhattan Beach’s Cody Purcell usurped the establishment to win the final. In a heat featuring Jamie Mitchell, Jojo Roper, Greg Long and Nic Lamb, all arguably the most seasoned and savvy Killers killers, the relatively unknown and humble Purcell airdropped on a swinging set to take the W. Both winners pocketed $10K for their accomplishment. 

Major kudos must be given to Gary Linden, who, aside from running a revamped XXL awards, is organizing and live-streaming legitimate big-wave content. He’s a true diehard of the sport in and out of the water (Remember this slam he took at age 65?) The cherry on top is that the video was directed and produced by one Blake Kueny, beholder of some of the greatest surfing ever documented on film.

As for those other waves and contests, well, there’s always next year.


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