65-year-old Gary Linden rides Jaws

January 30, 2015 | Surfing
Gary Linden: surfing Jaws with a wild heart | Photo:WSL/Fred Pompermayer

Gary Linden, vice-president of the Big Wave World Tour, is excited. At 65, he rode his first big wave at Jaws.

Greg Long told him: "No, you can't do it, I don't think you can do it, Gary." That was the trigger. Linden had never tasted the power of Peahi before, so he had to go for it.

"I had an arthritic hip and some heart problems and I'm going, 'it's probably not going to happen'. I'm bringing all that baggage on the day. But I've still got my suit, I've still got my vest, just on the odd chance that I thought I could do it I would," Linden tells World Surf League.

"I was sitting there watching all the waves and thinking. Finding out where I thought I could fit, what part of the peak. I've become really good at reading the waves, so I don't put myself in the wrong position. I thought, this is my chance. If I'm ever going to do it, it's right now."

Gary Linden borrowed a gun from Ben Wilkinson and paddled out. The 65-year-old veteran knew where to sit and caught a wave. "It was so gratifying to see the emotion and the joy on all the people out there that watched me catch it," he revealed.

Linden says his heaviest wipeout happened at Pascuales, in Mexico. "I got out there and it's the heaviest wave. I lined one up. I got to the bottom and made the drop. The lip broke on my arm and knocked my shoulder into my jaw and just about knocked me out.

"I essentially punched myself with my shoulder. I was semi-conscious underwater and remember going, 'Woah, I'm pretty deep. It's kind of cool.' Not really being all there, I almost drowned, but I popped up."

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