Going Big With Gary Linden And The Big Wave World Tour
Big Wave World Tour founder Gary Linden sheds insight on the growing big wave contest scene and the chances of big name pros like Kelly Slater joining the ranks.
With the ASP World Tour all but wrapped up and big wave season approaching us here in the northern hemisphere (The Nelscott Reef Big Wave World Tour event is currently in it's waiting period), it's a perfect time to check in with Big Wave World Tour executive director and former ASP president Gary Linden. A master craftsman and legend in big wave circles, Linden is the key figure in the founding and successful first year of the Big Wave World Tour. We caught up with Gary from Peru where he's taking in the Billabong ISA World Surfing Games…
TransWorld SURF: First off, how many guys are on the Big Wave World Tour?
Gary Linden: There are about 100 surfers available for competition, however only the top 12 from the previous year are guaranteed a slot in each event
Are there any plans to expand the field of surfers as interest grows?
We plan to have at least one qualifying event in each hemisphere so that those who want to have a go have a chance to prove themselves worthy
Speaking of growing interest in the Big Wave World Tour, can you confirm that Kelly Slater has shown some?
Kelly was set to compete in the Todos Santos event last year but had to attend the Quik event on the Gold Coast as it unfortunately fell at the same time. Kelly really shined at the Eddie and would have won if the format had been different. I believe he would like to show the guys on our tour it was no fluke.
Are there any plans to expand the Tour or add any stops?
We hope to get an event at Dungeons in South Africa back on the calendar so that there will be three events in each hemisphere. After that happens we plan to add, as previously stated, a qualifying series to expand the potential for new talent.
What are the differences between running a Big Wave Tour event compared to that of a regular ASP World Tour event?
The most obvious difference is that it is run in one day with a much longer waiting period. After that, the complexity of an ASP contest makes one of our events look much more like guerilla warfare.
Would you consider the ASP World Tour a competitor of the Big Wave World Tour?
I don’t think we are competing as much as complementing the ASP. As more people who don’t particularly surf are drawn to our events for the simplicity and ease in understanding “big waves, little men” it seems only natural that they will become interested in all disciplines of surfing and thus further promote the sport.
What guys on the ASP World Tour do you think could excel on the Big Wave World Tour?
Obviously Kelly (above) and Andy Irons have nothing to prove, but I feel any of the other surfers on the ASP are so talented that all it would take would be the desire to go for it.
Oahu's Jamie Sterling is currently rated #1 and sits nearly 700 points in front of the current runner up, Cristian Merello. Can anyone catch him in the last three events?
It's not over 'til the last event as only the finalists are awarded points and then the bigger the waves during each event, the more points possible. On the BWWT wave height instead of prize money counts the most towards the point system.
The guys on the big wave circuit seem closer to each other and less competitive than those on the ASP World Tour. Why is that?
I have to say it's always been the tradition to watch after each other during big wave free sessions but all of these guys want to win when the heat is on. It's just so much damn fun surfing big waves that after scoring a bomb not much else matters except the need to catch another.
Above: Highlights from the 2009 Big Wave World Tour event at Todos Santos, Baja California, Mexico.
Watch video of Gary Linden paddling into 20 footers HERE