Gary Linden and Jose Cuervo pair up to artfully create a surfboard made entirely from agave
Over the past 40 years, Oceanside's Gary Linden has, arguably, always been a step ahead when it came to surfing. Linden's boards mirror that of an art piece, pioneering a craftsmanship that would soon become world famous. But Linden's surfboard shaping, much like his life, is simply an extension of his imagination – a desire to innovate. So it deemed natural to continue this novel way of shaping, building a board entirely made of plant-based materials. Considered one of the "god father’s of agave surfboards," Linden paired up with Jose Cuervo to create a board 100% made from the agave plant. "I've been making agave surfboards for over 25 years, harvesting the stalks from the backyards of unassuming San Diego neighbors and shaping them into resilient, rideable art," said Linden. "Somewhere down the line, it occurred to me that it should be possible to make the whole board from agave. Not only did this appeal to my 'waste not, want not' nature, but I wanted to prove that a sustainable, all-natural surfboard was possible."
We chatted with Linden on his experience with Jose Cuervo's team, his monumental drop-in at Jaws last winter, and where he sees the surf industry going.
When and why did you start shaping boards?
I started shaping surfboards in 1967 so I could have one of the new 8' "V" bottom surfboards like they were starting to ride in Australia. The begin of the shortboard revolution my first board shaped was an 8'0″.
Earlier this year you checked a big item off your bucket list: you dropped in at Jaws. Can you walk us through what it felt like to drop in on such an iconic wave? Why was this a goal of yours? What was going through your head when you were about to drop in?
Actually the day I was out was perfect for a first-time affair. I had watched from the boat all morning trying to figure out all the nuances to riding it in preparation for the upcoming big wave event that will be held there. Ben Wilkenson paddled up and saw that I need to catch one and offered to loan me his board. This is why everybody loves Big Ben! Once I had the board, I knew the wave I wanted to ride and I knew it was going to break. I had this big board, so all that was left was to catch it. The first set looked perfect and I put my head down and paddled and once I was in, it felt good. It was really special because all of these years it had remained an unknown and thus fearful. I got a short window and had to go!
You have been shaping boards for over 40 years, so what inspired you to do something different in shaping a board entirely made from nature?
I have been working towards this since I started making boards in one way or the other to the point when working with the agave stalks to make blanks , I started to envision using the whole plant as my only resource for the entire board. It was special because it was more than just from nature, it came completely from the agave plant.
When did you start experimenting with agave in board production? Why agave? Can you outline some of the benefits a 100% agave board brings?
I started making agave boards about 15 years ago and it just happened to fill the niche in my repertoire of wood board construction. It was available, creative, and beautiful.
How did the partnership with Jose Cuervo come about?
My friend Randy Hild came to me looking for an agave board to help promote the Cuervo Campaign he was working on. I suggested that a 100% de agave board would parallel the Cuervo "Tradicional" line in makeup.
Do you think a 100% agave board could be sold at the retail/consumer level?
At this point it is not ready for the retail consumer but there will come a time in the near future where I hope it will become a very finite option. I don't expect it will ever be for mass combustion but hopefully some of the byproducts that we create along the process will see mainstream usage
You’ve had the opportunity to be a part of many cool and unique moments in surfing. How has the surfing industry changed over the course of your career? Where do you see it going from here?
I have been so fortunate to basically see and be a part of the evolution of Modern Surfing. On so many levels things are completely different from the materials, to the tools that are in use, but at the end of the day, the goals remain the same — great boards to surf the waves and cool clothes that differentiate the wearer.