Surfer, shaper-come-master-craftsman, event organizer, innovator, judge, tour founder, Oceanside icon, international-big-wave-slayer, husband, Dad, Grandpa to one, mentor to hundreds more — and at 70 years old, Gary Linden has either found the fountain of youth or at least an endless supply of surf stoke.
Gary’s journey into surfing began at age 12 when he rode his first wave on a borrowed board, sneaking away from a 4th of July beach picnic. Five years later, as a newly minted member of the Windansea Surf Club, he shaped his first board — a McTavish style Vee-bottom. Little did he know, this would be the opening act that would set the stage for a lifetime of shaping boards professionally and chasing the biggest and best waves all over the planet.
Today, with over 50 years of experience tucked away, Gary’s shapes have become some of the most sought after boards and big wave guns in the industry. His intimate knowledge of heavy water is earned both from his own feats of user testing as well as feedback from some of big wave surfing’s most renowned names.
As the former president of the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), Gary founded the Big Wave World Tour in 2009 which eventually became the World Surf League Big Wave Tour, a series Gary also helped lead. As a highly sought after competition judge and organizer, Gary still lends his expertise and commentary at big-wave events each year in places like Jaws, Killers, Nazare, Mavericks, and others.
In addition to creating custom boards and proprietary designs from foam, Gary’s hand shapes are centered around the idea of sustainability, using balsa and agave woods to create beautiful boards that are performance-oriented, durable, and hydrodynamically intricate.
When he’s not hopping a flight to chase a swell or sitting out in the deepwater at Todos, Gary spends most of his time these days with his family, right where it all began in Oceanside. Just a few blocks up from the beach, with an easy walk to check on the waves.