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Season Opener Provides Solid Swells for Pacific Oregon Big-Wave CrewSalem-News.com
The first swell of the season was a solid 12’-13’...
(LINCOLN CITY, Ore.) - When you think of the Pacific Northwest surf scene, the thoughts that come to mind are; freezing cold waters, unpredictable and extreme weather conditions, dense coastal fog, huge tide changes, heavy rip currents, unfriendly ocean life and lots of driving.
This is why when it gets really big there are usually only a handful of local big-wave surfers in the water. Let’s face it, unless you live in the area, you will spend a lot of time on the road for a very risky return.
Basically, if you ever ask a local surfer in Oregon or Washington how the surf is, they will say, “The surf generally sucks here!” That is usually the case after December and thru spring when things get really ugly and depressing. If you’re lucky, you might find half a dozen days a month that are even worth surfing.
There is a bright side to all of the bad weather that usually takes over in the Pacific Northwest! It is called, “FALL”. Like clockwork, it seems that right at the tail end of each summer and the start of each Fall, the Northern Pacific hemisphere stirs up a few solid, clean and long interval northwest ground swells that range anywhere from 12’-20’.
The weather conditions are not as bad but can still be an issue. If you are one of the locals, you’ll know where and when to chase down the big ones and the rewards can be great. From pounding A-Frame beach breaks, to the deepest ugliest slabs you could ever ask for, to perfect outer reef giant walls of water going in either direction for hundreds and hundreds of yards. If you are on the scene and ready to go when that window opens up, you can score some of the best waves of your life!
This Fall season has been no different from years past and mother nature has already produced a few of these magical swells in the Pacific Northwest where the sun shines all day and the winds are calm. On standby and eagerly awaiting the start of a fresh big-wave season were local surfers, Keith Galbraith, Eric Akiskalian, Dan Hasselschwert, John ‘Aquaman’ Wilcox, Steve Harnack and Tim Andrew.
The first swell of the season was a solid 12’-13’ @ 15 sec. and the crew opted to use their Personal Watercraft for transportation thru the pounding closeout beach break and water patrol while paddling the reef. There were no photographers on hand but luckily their water support guy, Tim Andrew had his little handy cam and snapped this overview shot below.
The next two swells (no. 2 and 3) that followed in the coming days were bigger but both came with those extreme weather conditions making them a complete bust. The day after the storm the crew woke to find clean and rip able beach breaks all up and down the local area.
“As much as Eric and I love to tow, this season we and a few of our friends have been focusing mainly on paddling the reef and getting it figured out. Needless to say, it has been a real eye opener for all of us. Basically, we love the challenge that paddling brings and we are going to continue pushing the big-wave paddle scene up here along with grabbing the rope when things get really crazy!” – Keith Galbraith said.
On October 3, 2010 (swell no. 4) Keith and Eric along with surfer / photographer / water support, Tim Andrew had the reef all to themselves for seven hours. The conditions were perfect and the swell was a solid 13’-14’ @ 15 seconds with light east winds. So far that was the best swell so far this early season as stated by the crew. The biggest set that came thru was right after they had been paddling for a couple of hours. Eric had decided he wanted to tow-in and up his wave count. Sure enough, the set of the day popped up and Eric got the wave of the day.
Akiskalian said, “Had I been on my paddle board, I most likely would have been cleaned up or scratching for the horizon. Stoked that I grabbed the rope because that was an amazing wave. That set just came out of no where and one that reminded me of what the reef is all about. High performance tow surfing and loads of fun. It only gets more exciting when it gets bigger out there and this is what we want to see!”
It was a great day all in all for the crew of three. Tim Andrew even snagged a solid paddle wave at the end of the day and took a freefall hero drop right on the head. Way to take one for the team Tim! The best part of the entire session is that they had the reef all to themselves. Now that is what good surfing is all about, sharing great waves with a few friends. You can be assured that the local crew will be waiting for the next big Pacific Northwest swell in full force to take on whatever Mother Nature decides to deliver.
The new season has officially begun and there have been some great waves ridden so far. As usual the weather conditions have been very unpredictable but you will never truly know unless you make the commitment and take the risk.
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