Greg Long came very close to dying at Cortes Bank on December 21, 2012. After arriving at the underwater seamount 100 miles off Souther California’s coast with Shane Dorian, Grant Baker, and Ian Walsh, Greg dropped in too deep on the second wave in a five-wave set. He made it to the bottom, then was buried in the whitewater, being driven deep with three more monsters behind him. His inflatable suit failed and he was held down for three waves before losing consciousness just feet below the surface.
After his lifeless body was pulled from the whitewash of the fourth wave by D.K. Walsh, he regained consciousness on the boat. What followed was life-changing. On a trip to the Peruvian Andes, Long searched for what his life had become. He found it.
The photo above was posted to his Instagram along with the following words:
Since nearly drowning at Cortes Bank a little over a year ago, I have since wondered if I could go back out and surf there again. Yesterday I answered my question. It wasn’t the biggest ever but 8 hours in oil glass perfection surfing alone, it was still the most mentally challenging and memorable session of my life. The greatest respect and appreciation to everyone who was a part of the trip and to my friends/safety team who were looking after me throughout the day.
In the span of 96 hours last week, big-wave surfer Greg Long found himself traversing the Pacific Ocean to three famous surf spots separated by thousands of miles, including the Cortes Bank where he almost died over a year ago, to ride one of the most intense swells of the winter season.
On Monday Long joined a cadre of photographers and surfers on Maui, where he paddled into 15-to-20 foot surf at the famous big-wave spot, Jaws. It was a pleasant day in the islands and he even had time to Instagram a photo of himself kicking back on a jet ski in the channel. A red-eye flight got Long back home to San Clemente, California, just in time to load his van with his prized quiver of Chris Christenson-shaped big-wave boards, and rush north on Highway 101 to Half Moon Bay, in Santa Cruz. Greeting the swell he'd just ridden in Hawaii, Long spent Tuesday riding 15-to-18 foot sets. The swell was bigger and "more intense" than expected, Long said.
By Wednesday, it was apparent the Maverick's Invitational would be called on, but Long had bigger things on his mind. He began putting all the pieces together for a covert strike mission to Cortes Bank, a wave 100 miles off the coast of San Diego that nearly took his life a year ago. Long wrangled two boats and an eager crew. One boat would carry six jet skis, the other was a dedicated support boat that carried a paramedic, as well as a World of X Games film crew.