Don’t Call It A Comeback: Big-Wave Surfer Greg Long

“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.”

It’s undeniable that big-wave surfer Greg Long has had his fair share of ups and downs with the dangerous sport throughout the years. But like a moth to a flame, Long has always come back to his love for the ocean, resulting in his selection as one of National Geographic’s Adventurers of the Year.

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Big-Wave Surfer Greg Long  - Clapway

Two years ago, on December 21, 2012, Long dropped into an immense 25-foot wave at Cortes Bank, 100 miles off the shores of San Diego, as surfer Garrett McNamara unintentionally dropped in on top of him. What happened next was a series of unfortunate events.

McNamara’s unexpected dive cut Long off and caused him to fall into the water. Then, Long’s inflatable bladder, which is similar to an airbag in the back of his wetsuit, failed to activate when he pulled the string. Submerged underwater, the willed athlete held his breathe long enough to crawl up to the tail of his surfboard. However, the board was still completely immersed in water, which prevented him from catching a breath. Resultantly, Long blacked out.

And then wave, after wave, after wave –three in total– held him down underwater.

After being rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter, Long washed himself of surfing – forever.

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Big-Wave Surfer Greg Long  - ClapwayPhoto Courtesy of

Less than a year later, though, Long was riding waves bigger than ever and went on to win the title of Big Wave World Champion at the 2012-’13 Big Wave World Tour, a contest in which the world’s best 12 big-wave surfers get as little as a three days notice to enter and compete at big-wave competition sites around the world.

Long’s surfing journey began at the young age of ten, and by 15, he knew how he wanted to spend the rest of his life: riding massive waves. And at 30 years old, he’s spend the last dozen and some years training his body and mind to do just that and more.

So far, the California native has earned gold medals at the 2003 Red Bull Big Wave Africa, at Mavericks in 2008, at the 2009 Eddie Aikau event, the 2013 Big Wave World Tour, and more category wins at the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards than any other surfer.

And after the near-fatal accident at Cortes Bay, Long has also seemingly earned a second chance. One he seems to be taking full advantage of.

Don’t Call It A Comeback: Big-Wave Surfer Greg Long  - ClapwayPhoto Courtesy of