Nelscott Reef is an ocean reef near Lincoln City, Oregon, United States, that creates a reef break (a surf-break created by the presence of a rock or coral reef) that is known as the only place on the Oregon Coast with the right conditions for big wave surfing. It is named for the former community of Nelscott, which is now a part of Lincoln City.
After watching the perfect big wave one mile offshore since ’89 and knowing there was no way of paddling a conventional big wave gun through the huge beachbreak to get to it, in 1995 Nelscott a couple surfers took an underpowered zodiac out in the 17 feet at 20 second swell and after several tries was able to penetrate the Siletz rivermouth and got outside. Feeling insignificant and vulnerable floating around in the huge open ocean swells they were able to work their way to the channel on the north side of the reef, unpack their guns and paddle to where they thought the take off zone was. With no bearings or landmarks with which to triangulate the wide ranging take off zone they were lucky enough to be in the spot and paddle for their life for the set wave headed this way. The speed of the wave combined with the wind keeping them on the peak prevented them from getting down the face and felt like the “Jay Moriarty stuck in the lip at Mavericks” famous wipeout and got blown out the back only to find the wave’s “big brother” bearing down on them. Scrambling for their lives they were able to claw up and over the north shoulder and get out of the impact zone. After that “up close and personal” experience they realized that this was a different kind of wave, and was Great for towsurfing and SUP Surfing.
Santa Cruz Tow Maestros Peter Mel and Adam Replogle came up to help “crack the reef” in 2002 in all its glory. With faces in the 25' to 35' range, they were finally able to realize their dream and rode the best high performance big wave in the world like it was 4′ Malibu. The seed was planted for the following year and it was Southern California's elite tow team of Chuck Patterson and Eric Akiskalian that made their appearance on the reef.
In 2003, Eric Akiskalian and Chuck Patterson both from Southern California, came up to the infamous Nelscott Reef after they saw the photos that were being posted of Peter and Adam from the year prior. On November 14, 2003, both Eric and Chuck scored solid 35' - 40' empty and flawless perfect Nelscott Reef under sunny and warm conditions. Since this day, Eric has made Nelscott Reef and South Reef his most desirable and favorite tow spot in the world and has become a true pioneer and the face of the reef over the years due to his passion and commitment to grow the sport and support the local surfers with his ocean safety, PWC and tow-in training expertise. Eric has since then been coming to Lincoln City every year and for almost every XXL swell that has slammed the cost since then. Today at 56, Eric still pushes his limits in hoping to break his own South Reef record of riding a 65' wave. As well, Eric is now head of water safety and logistics for the WQS WSL Oregon Big Wave Event and the Newley created Nelscott Reef Big Wave Surfing Pro-Am.
On December 11th, 2005 the first ever tow-event event was held on Nelscott Reef. “Nelscott Reef Tow In Classic”.
The 2010 Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic was held on November 2, 2010, as part of the male-dominated Big Wave World Tour. An exhibition featuring three world champion women—Keala Kennelly, Savannah Shaughnessy, and Mercedes Maidana—delayed their event one day due to wave faces of 40 to 50 feet (12 to 15 m) causing havoc for the men's event.
In 2010 during the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic, professional tow surfer Eric Akiskalian at the age of 50, was towed into a 65' wave on the South Reef just south of Nelscott Reef. HIs wave was nominated that year for one of five of the biggest waves surfed in the world by Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards. Today, Eric holds the record for riding the biggest wave ever surfed in the Pacific Northwest.
- nelscottreefsurf.com (commercial website)
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