Gary was the president of the Mangrove River surf club, who had a long-standing rivalry with John Palmer that spilled over when they led their respective towns into the surf carnival. They met when they posed together for photographs for the local paper, exchanging barbs. Gary then gave an interview in which he claimed John was seeking revenge for Gary beating him in a regional ironman competition thirty-five years earlier, with John questioning his version of events by claiming Gary had skipped a buoy which gave him the win. They continued their digs at each other over Twitter.
At the carnival, John and Gary both went to the judges when Ruby Buckton, competing for Mangrove River alongside Casey Braxton, was knocked off her surf ski by Miranda Jacobs while trying to overtake her. The judges accepted John’s assertion that the move had been fair. Romeo Smith won the last event, giving Summer Bay a narrow victory for the first time in five years. As John gave his acceptance speech, he was concerned when Gary suddenly collapsed from a mild heart attack. Gary presumably recovered but was not seen again.