SURFING: State police stake-out big wave

Nelscott Reef

LINCOLN CITY — Surfing will take the spotlight at a city council meeting Monday, Jan. 28, where big-wave promoter John Forse intends to lodge a complaint against rival surfers over another dangerous incident at Nelscott Reef.

Forse released a photograph this week of a chilling encounter between a jet ski and a surfer that shows them on a collision path. No injuries occurred as the 750-pound watercraft veered away at the last moment. Forse said the incident occurred about a week ago during non-contest conditions.

“The jet-ski was going 30 to 35 mph,” claimed Forse, saying state marine laws forbid motorized boats from straying within 100 feet of surfers. “It’s like driving a boat through a group of swimmers.”

Meanwhile, Oregon State Police say they are monitoring the situation, which falls into their jurisdiction.

State Trooper Scott Severson stated, “Jet skiiers will be cited if appropriate, and we will shut down (any contests) if operations are unsafe.”

The newly-documented encounter comes in the wake of another incident that occurred during a Nov. 29, 2017, big wave contest where several onlookers were struck and briefly pinned by a log that swept onto the beach.

Forse, who founded big-wave surfing at the reef and has held an annual contest there since 2004, claimed the city contributed to the unsafe situation by issuing a license to a rival group that was fined in municipal court as a result of the 2017 beach accident.

City Manager Ron Chandler recently expressed interest in having the city take over the big-wave surfing at Neslcott Reef, which lies about a quarter mile off Canyon Way Park. The rest stop is the the launch site for tournaments at the reef.

Big wave surfing is a big business, with contests revenues, sponsorships, television rights and purses running to six figures. With fewer than 30 locations on the globe suitable for big wave surfing, past events have drawn dozens of competitors from around the world and thousands of onlookers to Lincoln City.

The big wave season typically runs from October through May.

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