Posted by Guest
| November 13th, 2012 | Filed under Outdoor Sport
If you’re like us, you may have spent some time imagining what it feels like to ride a surfboard down the choppy face of a 30-foot wave. Hell, maybe you’ve done it and can tell us the tale. But for those of us who just dream about serious surfing, there’s something undeniably thrilling about knowing professional big wave surfers can conquer the unconquerable.
Some of the best big wave riders in the world may soon be arriving in our Oregon backyard if the weather gods cooperate. Until December 31, a surf competition called the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic is in a “holding period.” When forecasters predict swells of 30 feet or greater, competitors will have 72 hours to show up in Lincoln City, Oregon. They’ll arrive ready to ride.
Half a mile offshore, the Nelscott Reef produces legendary waves. For most of the eight years of the competition’s history, surfers were towed to the break by jet skis, but starting in 2008, some competitors chose to manually paddle to the waves so they could get the full drop, says event organizer John Forse.
That attitude mirrors the development of the sport. “Big wave surfing has evolved a lot. They [surfers] found out that even when they eat shit on a 40- or 50-foot wave, they could survive,” he says. “That was the biggest fear, handling the wipeout. So then they said, ‘Shit, let’s paddle it.’”
One of those big wave surfers, Dave Wassel, who competed at Nelscott in 2010 and spends his days life guarding on the North Shore of Oahu, said that while he was out catching the 40- and 50-foot waves on the reef, he saw a wave with a 70-foot face—the largest paddleable wave he’s ever seen.
This year, surfers will compete for a $10,000 purse and a chance to become the champion of the Big Wave World Tour, a series of five big wave competitions that includes the Nelscott Classic. Sign up for an email update about the start of the competition and find more info on their website.
Award-winning author and writer Lucy Burningham has been working as a journalist for the past twelve years. She covers travel, food, and craft beer for a variety of magazines, newspapers, and guidebooks.