A classic day of big wave surfing at Nelscott Reef

Nelscott Reef: no jet skis in da house

The Big Wave World Tour continued yesterday on its 3rd stop of the 2010/2011 circuit. This time it was the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic – an iconic wave for extreme surfers and this year, its 6th consecutive one, was no exception.

After a spectacular day’s surfing and thrilling final Kohl Christensen took the honours with Chris Bertish and Jamie  Sterling runners-up.

Chris Bertish in a beautiful wave at Nelscott. Photo by Richard Hallman

Although 21′ waves had been predicted the day started with magnificent 40 footers. Plus. This was the first year that the organisers had banished tow-in in favour of a greener footprint. Actually, if the truth be told, the organizers had included a paddle element to the competition for the past 2 years and the feedback they received was overwhelming – the competitors, spectators, and sponsors all wanted to see Nelscott as a paddle in contest only.

The day’s massive conditions made accessing the wave a tad difficult and it took nearly an hour to get the competition underway. But this wasn’t a disadvantage. By the time the surfers got out there the conditions couldn’t have been more perfect.

In fact, John Forse, event organizer and Nelscott pioneer, noted that he saw the biggest wave ever on the reef in the morning. Forse had made his first attempt to ride the reef way back in 1995.

Gary Linden, Tour director, was out in the water all day “It was an extremely high level of intensity.  The semi final heats were really mayhem”, he said.

Mayhem it might have been but an amazing day of surfing was had on the reef and six men made it through to the finals. Kohl Christensen, Chris Bertish, Kealii Mamala, Rusty Long, Peter Mel, and Jamie Sterling battled it out for the honours. Despite having come third in the event Jamie Sterling, the current points leader on the tour, solidified his position and Peter Mel moved into second place.

“I have a lot of respect for some of the older guys we invited that have chosen to step aside and let some of the up and coming talent take a turn”, said John Forse. “People like Gary Linden and Ross Clarke Jones have given up their spots for younger surfers to have a chance. It is the ultimate show of sportsmanship in my opinion”.

For the 1st time ever in a Big Wave Event, a women’s exhibition will take place with 7 of the world best charging women coming to tackle Nelscott Reef. That event is being held today…

The Big Wave Contest began in April 2010 and will end in March 2011. The waves being surfed are Punta de Lobas – Chile, Pico Alto – Peru, Nelscott Reef – Oregan USA, Mavericks – California USA and Todos Santos – Baja Mexico.

It is being mooted that Kelly Slater, the surfing world’s biggest star and a man about to win his 10th ASP World title, might join the Big Wave World Tour. After all, what else is there left for “the king” to do? Very few riders become big wave surfers but Slater is no novice to the big wave scene having surfed  Mavericks in 2000 and in 2002 won the prestigious Eddie Aikau at Waimea Bay, Hawaii and been a finalist at the Eddie again in 2009.

Gary Linden’s interview below is well worth watching… with thanks again to sommossa83.

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