Thursday, December 28, 2006

Nelscott Part 1

E WIND 10 TO 15 KT.

There are plenty of arguments in the surf world...
Longboard vs. Shortboard...
Tow vs. Paddle...
And now local vs. non-local contestants...

The recent Nelscott contest in Oregon has dredged up some contentious issues that have been hashed out in local papers, on Surfline and on the's some samples of the fun:

First some excerpts from Will Henry’s Surfline article:

An international surf contest in Oregon? When one thinks of this forested, fog-shrouded coastline, it usually conjures images of frigid water temperatures, incessant rain, shark attacks, and hostile locals.

Yet despite it all, the annual event at Nelscott Reef is a welcome relief from the normal contest format. Even more, the contest is the first and only tow-in surfing competition on the West Coast of North America. And for good reason: the surf spot is tailor-made for the sport. If God surfs, well, Nelscott is where he would come to tow in.

The Second Annual Nelscott Reef Tow Classic ran in perfect conditions on Friday, December 8 in Lincoln City, Oregon, hosting a crew of some of the world's top tow-surfing talent. Competitors from California, Oregon, Hawaii, and Canada battled it out in groomed 20- to 30-foot surf, on a reef that sits nearly a mile from shore.

The Nelscott Reef Tow Classic is the brainchild of Oregon surfer John Forse, who first surfed the reef in 1995 after watching it break for years. His initial effort to ride the big-wave spot involved taking an underpowered zodiac out through a nearby rivermouth, where he timed the sets and a vicious shorebreak, finally anchoring near the break and paddle-surfing it solo. The difficulties in paddle-surfing Nelscott, however, proved nearly insurmountable, and John realized quickly that the wave was perfectly set up for tow-in surfing.

The final heat was held in dwindling light under a brilliant orange sunset. Inconsistent sets provided a challenge for competitors, but when the big waves poured through, the action was intense. Nelscott is a perfect peak, providing both lefts and rights, and often there were two or three riders up and riding at a single time. "It's like a ballet," commented one local spectator who was witnessing the contest for the first time.

In the end, Hawaiians Garrett MacNamara and Kealii Mamala took home the first place trophy, but all of the contestants left with a huge amount of surf stoke. John Forse presented the awards that evening, and reminisced about his long-held desire to see the waves at Nelscott surfed by the world's top surfers. For the second year in a row, he got his wish.


1. Garrett McNamara/Kealii Mamala
2. Brad Gerlach/Mike Parsons
3. Adam Replogle/Alistair Craft
4. Raph Bruhwiler/Keith Malloy
5. Greg Long/Rusty Long

Oregon surfers have mixed feelings about towing, the Nelscott contest and John Forse…as is evidenced by the conversation on the Oregon Surf Message Boards on the contest…here are some tidbits:

I'm confused....the article says there were surfers in it from Oregon, but I thought no Oregon teams were present?

As surfing becomes more mainstream here in Oregon, the less we'll hear dumb questions like "You acually surf around here?" Now we'll hear even dumber questions like "Do you surf the Nelscott breakers?"

It sucks that no Oregon teams got the invite, kind of silly really…as most contests reserve a wildcard slot for a local fave. Why give a spot to Kelly when he won't even bother showing up when there are local guys that surf the place whenever it breaks and are competent enough to be out there? In my mind a total slap in the face to the locals that charge there but that's a different story.

As for the Oregon teams, bummer there were none, but is there really anyone with enough experience to compete with guys like Mel and McNamara? Sure, it's a courtesy thing, but the professionals have been towing into waves for a long time and in the big scale compared to waves like Chopes, Nelscott seems kinda playful for them. Anybody from Oregon towing now, has probably only been towing since Repo and Mel’s first successful mission there just a few years back. Weren't they the list? Those guys have a lot of water experience. I just don't think we have the talent or the waves for an individual to get that good, and if we did the overall attitude is not to. I may be wrong, but who knows? Guess we'll see as it becomes more popular locally.

Chuck Patterson was tearing it other words for it. [He] was the equal of anyone out there, [and] deserved to have a shot. If there is another title for this type of contest it should include the word INVITATIONAL somewhere up front and center. If you can't get a form, fill it out, pay your fee and pass whatever requirements they establish, then call it what it invite only event.

Oh, the war has started. Forse is gonna lose his contest for being local unfriendly.

To be continued...