The 24-year-old from San Clemente is one of 24 elite surfers invited to Saturday’s Mavericks Surf Contest in Half Moon Bay. Long will compete in the contest for the fifth time after placing second in 2003, when he won $8,000. He has been surfing for the last 14 years. The highest wave he has ridden at the competition? Fifty feet.
What’s the most exciting thing about being a part of this contest? Mavericks, to me, is the heaviest big wave in the world. I have watched every single Mavericks video from when I was a young kid. Those were my heroes when I was a kid. This idea that I’d be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with these guys is unfathomable to me.
What do you think about how that area stacks up against other surfing spots around the world? I’ve spent countless days up there sleeping in my car. It’s one of the true wonders of the world. At Mavericks, the wave itself just packs more energy; it’s so focused in one spot.
Will you be sleeping in your car again? No, this time I’ll be flying up and probably staying in a hotel. It was too short of a notice to drive up.
Have you bonded with your fellow competitors? Some of my best friends are from there. A lot of the regulars out there — we’ve become really good friends. Those guys are my all-time favorite people for me to surf with.
When you’re not in the water, what do you do during the contest? I’ve just hung out there watching it. You can sit out there for days and just watch it.
Will you ever look back at these contests and reflect on how special they were? It’s an honor, when there are so many big-wave surfers out there, to have your name recognized as one of the top 24 big-wave surfers in the world.