Greg Long Wins Pico Alto - Surfer's Path

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Greg Long Wins Pico Alto

Greg Long wins the Billabong Pico Alto Invitational 2009 Long on his way to victory, unruffled by the grandé waves on offer. All pictures by G. Barandiarán/ Billabong

The Billabong International Big-Wave World Championship wrapped up Monday, July 6th in glassy, contestable 15-foot surf. The event, held at Peru’s famed Pico Alto, started out partly cloudy in the morning and with little wind, and held decent shape and size throughout the day.

HIGHLIGHTS: Six of the world’s best big-wave riders faced off with Peru’s local big-wave surfers. While the Peruvians held their own in the heavy conditions, XXL-winner Greg Long stepped up to take the win, carving another notch in his big-wave belt.

Although up-and-coming Peruvian surfer Javier Swayne placed second to Jose Gomez in the ’06 event, Javier managed a fifth place this year. In the semis, Javier broke his board and ended up surfing the finals on a borrowed board from Peter Mel. “It was a very good gesture on behalf of Peter,” said Javier. “Nevertheless he’s a lot bigger than me, so the board was very wide for me.”
The other Peruvian that make it into Finals was Rafael Velarde, who scored the second best wave of the event after Peter Mel.

It wasn’t to anyone’s surprise that Greg Long dominated the final. Though, Carlos Burle of Brazil also deserves recognition for pulling out a strong second place finish, while another Californian, Peter Mel, finished third and Hawaiian Mark Healy received fourth.

Finisterre’s Carlos Burle of Brazil, high on the peak of Pico Alto

“The best memories I have are of the friends I made in Peru and the moments shared in the water. There are not many big-wave championships in the world, but this is one of the best championships I have been in. I never thought that Pico Alto had so much power.” — Greg Long

“The wave surprised me. It has a lot of power and is top-level. Pico Alto has entered the world map of big-wave surfing.” — Peter Mel

“To participate in this championship was exciting. I’ve learned a lot from the big-wave competitors in this championship.” — Javier Swayne

Javier Swayne’s nip and tuck under the lip of a fat one Long lifts the trophy.


1. Greg Long

2. Carlos Burle

3. Peter Mel

4. Mark Healy

5. Javier Swayne

6. Rafael Velarde


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