In a year that saw his passion for tackling giant surf nearly take his life, redemption came to Greg Long as he was named the 2012-13 Big Wave World Tour world champion.
Considered one of the most prepared and methodical big-wave riders today, Long was surfing Cortes Bank 100 miles off the coast of the California coast on Dec. 21 when he went down on a 20-footer and was subsequently held under. Suffering a near drowning, he was life-flighted back to San Diego where he was shortly discharged from the hospital. A month later he was pulling on a jersey at the Mavericks Invitational and back in the lineup.
After a second place finish at the Billabong Pico Alto event on Aug. 14, 2012, and a fourth-place finish at the Mavericks Invitational on Jan. 22, and another second-place finish at the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic on Feb. 2, Greg Long's BWWT title was a lock. This is Long's first BWWT title. He received the award from last year's champion, Peter Mel, who made an appearance via Skype, saying, "It's my honor to pass the torch to another great young man, Mr. Greg Long."
Guest of honor Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz gave what most in attendance called one of the best speeches at a surf event. About Long he noted, "You're in a different league ... You're not like us normal folks."
Other faces in the crowd included Mark Healey, Rusty Long, and of course, Gary Linden, who as tour director and mastermind continues to put his everything into making the BWWT a reality. "It started as a dream," he said, "and it's still going."
The awards ceremony was held at the Surfing Heritage Foundation in San Clemente, Calif. This year, three of the five events on the BWWT schedule had enough favorable conditions to run. The Quiksilver Ceremonial Chile Big Wave Invitational and the Todos Santos Big Wave Event did not run.
FINAL BWWT STANDINGS 2012/2013
1. Greg Long (USA) 2155.5
2. Jamie Sterling (HAW) 1160.7
3. Carlos Burle (BRA) 1150
4. Peter Mel (USA) 1148.7
5. Ken Collins (USA) 826.5