For all of you who root for the good guy, you can finally wave those pom-poms again. Greg Long, one of the top three big-wave riders in the world, winner of the 2008 Maverick’s Surf Contest and one of the most positive surfing role models today, finally found a sponsor. As confirmed by Billabong and Long, they agreed to a multi-year deal on Friday that includes sponsorship by Xcel Wetsuits and Von Zipper. “It was weird how it happened,” said Long. “It’s been 18 months now with a lot of false leads and big letdowns. But when Billabong showed interest, it was almost like it happened overnight. I’m just so stoked to be with a company who’s going to support my dreams and allow me to keep doing what I’m doing.”
What he’s been doing, of course, is pursuing the world’s heaviest waves on a full-time basis. He’s been going strong for the last six years, but when OP dropped its entire team in the summer of 2006, Greg and his brother Rusty were faced with a dilemma: what next? “It actually wasn’t even really a question,” said Greg. “I’ve never done this for sponsorship; I’ve done it because I’m driven – some would call it borderline obsessed – with riding the world’s best and biggest waves. When our sponsorship ended, we just depleted our savings, tried to live a cheap as possible and kept it going.”
Which is a bit of an understatement. That summer of 2006, he rode the biggest wave of the year, a cold dark, scary cartoon of a wave at Dungeons in Cape Town, winning the Billabong XXL Biggest Wave award. In 2007/08, he won Maverick’s, paddled into the biggest wave of the year at Todos Santos (winning the Monster Paddle-in Award), won the XXL Best Overall Performance and was a part of the early January Cortes session that saw some of the biggest waves ever ridden. Yet, despite all this, Long could not secure a deal that would allow him to put a cap on his draining savings. This wasn’t a case of a Jordy Smith bidding war with Greg holding out for millions; this was a long frustrating road of being strung along for months with promising leads, only to be disappointed in the end. “I don’t blame anyone for it,” says Greg. “I knew it would eventually work out. You just have to stay positive when it comes to stuff like this.”
This is why Greg Long – a big-wave legend in the making with decades of experience ahead of him – is such a valuable asset to any company. Check the global forecast and watch him go.