64 years of innovation with Gary Linden. The Big Wave World Tour pioneer.
Gary is quite a unique character. He has been shaping surfboards for almost 50 years, was part of the board of directors of the ASP for 16 years (where he served as President for 3 years), and created the Big Wave World Tour. If that wasn´t enough, he speaks fluently Spanish and Portuguese and still charges Big Waves at the age of 64.
1. First of all Gary, could you tell me how it all began. What drove you into surfing, and what was your first wave like?
My Dad started taking me to the beach at around 7 years of age because he grew on the beach in Hermosa, CA and specifically because my doctor at the time said it was the best cure for my asthma. Did ride a surfboard till I was 12 but by then the Ocean was a good friend.
2. How did you learn to shape surfboards and where are you standing today?
I learned to shape surfboards around 17 so that I could ride one of the new V bottom shorter boards, 8’ that the Australians introduced. It took a while before the manufacturers stated making them here so I started making some for myself and my friends. From there things just evolved to where I am now basically doing the same thing of making boards for myself and my friends! The only thing that has changed, I guess, is that I have more friends now.
3. With all the technology available out there today, where do you think the future of shaping is heading to?
And, do you still hand shape your surfboards? Machines have made the process of making boards accessible to a large spectrum of individuals who do not have to go through the process of developing hand shaping skills. It also allows for people like myself who would not have the time to keep making as many boards as we need to make. I still hand shape all the wood boards and some of the customs, mostly the guns.
4. You have been a big part of the ASP history and even more with the BWWT. How did you get into the ASP and when did you come up with the idea of a BWWT?
The ASP was a natural, I wanted to help create a sport so that there was a career path for surfers to follow. I had to go into shaping to stay involved and wanted to have other options that weren’t available to me. After the ASP was up and running I focused the same energy towards Big Wave Surfing which is my true passion.
5. Big Wave Surfing has evolved quite a lot in the past five years. The BWWT you created is going to be incorporated to the ASP for the first time in history. The price money got bigger, the contests are being webcast live, and the surfers are pushing the limits of paddle surfing to what didn’t seem possible before. What are the main difficulties you encounter as a contest director for a BW event? And, what are your thoughts of the BWWT and BW surfing in general?
The most difficult thing regarding being a Director is making the right call! It is extremely difficult to pick the day when the swell will be there and conditions good enough to run an event of this scale. People have to come from around the World on 48 hours notice and you have to be sure things are going to be contestable.
6. I heard you still charge big waves. Do you have any special training routine and how do you prepare to surf a big swell (mentally)?
I just keep telling myself I can do it and at the same time know I can take a beating!
7. Who do you admire in life and why?
Everyone who refuses to quit! In big wave surfing and shaping I look up to Pat Curren because he just does what he wants and doesn’t worry about what people think. He has his own idea of excellence and uses this as his own personal gauge. In music I like Carlos Santana for the same reason, life is about living with passion.
8. I know you travel to Mexico quite a lot. Do you have any favorite surf spots and what keeps bringing you back each year?
I love the Island of Todos Santos and the spot called Killers. It is a place where I can still challenge myself and enjoy the serenity of nature all at the same time
9. Do you have any pointers for up and coming surfers wanting to charge big waves?
Get some good equipment and start paddling for a few. It takes a lot of time and commitment just like anything in life worth having
Thanks a lot for your time Gary, see you out in the water.