Although we haven’t seen any huge swells yet, the north Pacific is starting to wake up, with various systems forming north of Hawaii and the Pacific Northwest.
As the seasons change, our focus will continue to shift from southern hemi to northern hemi swells, and no one is more excited about this fact then the crew up in Oregon.
Summer isn’t the nicest time for the Pacific Northwest, as it typically brings troublesome winds and a lack of swell. But fall and winter are another story altogether, and no one knows that better than the die hard chargers who frequent Lincoln City’s Nelscott Reef.
Formerly a stop on the Big Wave Tour, Nelscott Reef is an offshore bombie that can be paddled in excess of 50-feet, and that picks up swell from storms generated in the Gulf of Alaska—the types of swells that will start to churn with regularity over the next few months.
So it’s no surprise that the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Pro/Am opened its waiting period this week. Event directors Adam Wagner and Gabe Smith are excited to see this year’s event get under way, and recently released an invite list that features many of the world’s top big wave surfers, along with a handful of local talent and underground legends.
While wildcards and alternates have not been released yet, the event staff has received overwhelming interest from potential competitors, and have indicated that they will use a lottery system to select the event alternates.
As with most big wave events, the Nelscott contest will give competitors 72 hours notice when contestable conditions are forecasted, with the ideal swell combining both large waves and favorable winds.
While conditions in Oregon can be somewhat fickle, contest organizers are confident that the event will run this year, and are excited to see big wave heroics return to Lincoln City.
Nelscott Reef is a unique venue in that the wave breaks nearly a mile offshore, and is virtually impossible to paddle out to, due to a treacherous reform beach break and a raging near-shore current.
For this reason, safety and transfer logistics will be a main focus of the event, and will be headed up by Erik Akiskalian. Akiskalian has worked water logistics on WSL big wave events, and is basing this winter between the Pacific Northwest and Nazare, where he will be running water safety over the next few months.
“One of the biggest challenges we have is getting everyone out to the reef in a timely and safe manner,” says Akiskalian. “We operate on a man-on-man basis, one ski for each surfer in the water. We have some of the best watermen in the world operating the skis, while constantly focusing on risk management and keeping everyone safe throughout the event.”
The Nelscott Reef Big Wave Pro/Am opened its waiting period on October 1, 2017, with the event window running through March 31, 2018. The event will run when wave heights and conditions are deemed to be contestable.
Cover image: Tony Perez by Richard Hallman