For many people here in the Northwest, the period between October and March is a time to go east to the mountains to Ski, go out on the rivers to fish for salmon or steelhead, travel to warmer destinations, or simply to hunker down inside with a fire and some tea while getting some indoor projects done. For some though, including the international big wave surfing community, it's a time to closely monitor the forecasts to see if and when the Nelscott Reef contest will run.
Nelscott Reef is Oregon's big wave claim to fame. It's an outer reef off the shores of Lincoln City. For most of the year, it's simply a great place to fish. But in the winter months when swells get bigger and more powerful, the waves start to break. It's a very dangerous spot, and we don't recommend trying to surf it. There is a local crew of skilled, well trained surfers that will be out there when it's breaking well, though. And, if the swell and conditions allow for it, the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic runs on the best day of the year.
That day of perfect conditions didn't happen last year, but the contest did run the winter before. I went out to the coast to watch and it was a pretty crazy experience to watch guys (and gals) paddling and towing into the biggest waves I had ever seen. It's a great demonstration of how powerful the ocean can be. These photos are a few that I shot on that day.
If the contest does run this year, I highly recommend making the drive to Lincoln City to watch. It breaks way way offshore, so bring some binoculars so you can get a better appreciation of the waves.