Gracious and articulate big-wave surfer from San Clemente, California; Big Wave Tour champion in 2012 and 2015-16; winner of the 2009 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Contest at Waimea Bay, as well as the 2012 Big Wave Tour; five-time Billabong XXL award winner. ESPN's Jake Howard called Long "the best big-wave rider of the 21st Century."
Long was born (1983) in San Clemente, the son of a California State Park Lifeguard father, grew up in a small house at San Clemente State Beach, began surfing at age ten with older brother Rusty, and by 15 was day-tripping down to big-wave breaks on the Baja peninsula. Though Long surprised the field and won the Open Men's Division of the 2001 National Scholastic Surfing Association championships, he was not a natural competitor, and by the mid 2000s he abandoned the pro tour circuit to focus on big waves.
Remarkably calm in huge surf, and a with a tactician's approach to complicated big-wave lineups, the medium-built (5'10", 160 pounds) regularfoot was one of the best heavywater surfers in the world by his early twenties, winning the 2003 Red Bull Rider's Cup at Dungeons, and the Billabong XXL Performer of the Year award in 2004. In 2008 Long beat out a solid local crew to take first in the Maverick's Surf Contest, and in 2009 he outlasted Kelly Slater in picturesque 25-footers to win the Quiksilver contest, earning a perfect-wave score of 100 points along the way.
Long was also one of the leaders, in the mid-2000s, of big-wave riding's return to paddle-surfing. "I've had tow-in days where I get 20 huge waves, one after the other, letting the ski do all the work," Long explained to Outside magazine in 2011, "but if I paddle and nail just one good one, that wave stays with me forever."
In 2012, Long nearly died after a three-wave hold-down at Cortes Bank, after which he had to be air-lifted to the hospital. He recovered, and went on to win that years Big Wave World Tour. In 2015-16, competing in just two events, he again won the Big Wave Tour.
The winningest Billabong XXL competitor in the event's history, Long added the Best Tow-In Wave of the Year in 2007, and the Biggest Paddle In Wave and Performer of the Year awards in 2008. In 2011, Long was named the Surf Industry Manufacturer's Association Waterman of the Year.
Greg's older brother Rusty (born 1981) also became a top big-wave rider in the 2000s, but tacked away from the spotlight, preferring instead to write pensive articles for publications like the Surfer's Journal and dabbling in surf and landscape photography. In July 2011 Rusty suffered second-degree burns over nearly half of his body when a brush fire he set near his property in Baja flamed out of control. He recovered quickly and resumed surfing in 2012.
Long has appeared in a handful of surf movies and videos including Thread (2007), Beneath the Surface (2008), and Nomads (2009). He also appeared in the 2012 Hollywood production Chasing Mavericks.