Tuesday April 22, 2014
Oregon Massive Wave Enters Billabong XXL Big Wave AwardsTim King Salem-News.com
Surfer Eric Akiskalian & Salem-News.com photographer Tim King are entered for Billabong's Ride of the Year.
"Probably the biggest wave I have ever seen ridden in Oregon" -Garrett 'G-Mac' McNamara
(SOUTH REEF, Ore,) - Footage of a California big wave surfer riding a gigantic Oregon reef wave last October has been entered in the Ride of the Year Category for The 10th Annual Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards.
I shot the footage of Camarillo, California Eric Akiskalian last October during the Nelscott Reef Tow-In Classic that is held each year by Oregon surfers John Forse and Adam Wagner. Eric and his tow-in partner Keith Galbraith were towsurfing giant waves at South Reef, adjacent to the contest location the entire afternoon and they were riding some of the biggest waves ever ridden along Oregon’s coast.
Along with Keith Galbraith, Eric selected and managed to drop into a wave that blew everyone's mind. He says the Billabong XXL Ride of The Year entry is definitely an honor.
"For Keith and I to be recognized for our efforts amongst the best big wave surfers in the world is very gratifying and rewarding to the both of us."
Oregon's waves are gaining fame on a world scale, and rides like this are why. Keith Galbraith says getting to know Eric and surfing with him has been inspiring.
"He is one of the most committed, passionate and driven persons for the sport of tow-in surfing that I know. Eric has surfed all over the world and is still hungry for more! He definitely deserves props for his ability to manage a company, surf fulltime and still put his family as #1. He has helped me to push my limits not only in surfing, but daily life."
Keith says his transition into tow surfing was much easier with Eric's experience and support, and he says you can't stress how much of a team sport towsurfing is.
"Due to several injuries I got a rap of being 'Dangerous' so I have always struggled to find a solid partner in my area. For some reason Eric decided he was going to train me to tow with him. Since that point on my life changed. He has become one of my best friends as well as a good mentor in the sport."
The word "passionate" is used frequently when Eric Akiskalian is described by people he knows. His good friend Greg Long is a professional big wave legend and towsurfer from Southern California who has won almost every major big wave paddle event on this planet at least once, and has taken second or third if he did not take first. In fact he just won the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau at Waimea and has won more awards with the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards than any other surfer in its history.
Greg was also at the Nelscott event last October. He watched Eric and Keith's afternoon session at South Reef that day, probably wondering along with others if Eric was going to make that massive drop and ride the entire wave. As it turned out, he did just that along with many other insane rides.
"His enthusiasm and desire to promote and push the levels of the sport are unrivaled in the industry," Long said.
"I have personally known Eric for over 6 years. In that course of time, I have been so fortunate as to share many big wave sessions around the globe spanning from the Pacific Northwest to the depths of Chile. Both in the water and on land he is a class act individual, who constantly thrives off personally challenging himself in all aspects of life."
Greg Long also represents the competitors of the Big Wave World Tour which is dedicated to 5 major big wave paddle events a year, and he is currently in first place.
Every time I talk to Eric he is either just getting back from, or planning his next big wave trip. His absolute dedication to the sport, along with his good nature and desire to push existing limits, have served him well.
Another friend of Eric's who was happy to share his thoughts for this article, is another one of the absolutely biggest names in the world of big wave surfing, Garrett 'G-Mac' McNamara. He's the current World Cup Tow-In Champ and is recognized as one of the top elite big wave paddle surfers and towsurfers in the world today. Garret has also won many awards and titles ranging from 1st - 4th place in the past ten years.
'G-Mac' says Eric is committed and very calculated in his approach and he always looks like he's having a great time, handling what comes along with ease, even when things go wrong.
"Not many people embark on their dreams. Since I met Eric almost ten years ago, he has embarked on his dream to pursue riding big waves. He is fully committed and ready to challenge himself every chance he gets."
Possibly the biggest compliment this pro had for his friend Eric Akiskalian was about the specific giant wave now entered in the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards, "That was a sick wave and definitely looked like a giant one! Probably the biggest wave I have ever seen ridden in Oregon."
'G-Mac' is no stranger to Oregon surfing, and he says it is increasingly becoming known as a big wave location. But he also points to the clear differences between these waves, and those found in warmer climates.
"Needless to say not many surfers like the freezing water, frigid air and great white sharks! Don't think we need to worry about crowds. Thanks to the locals in Lincoln City like Keith, Dan, Ollie, Tim and Mark for sharing their spot with us and helping out with logistics when we come to town."
McNamara says Eric is an overall great person with a big heart who just loves to travel and chase swells with his friends whenever he can.
Eric says he first towed Nelscott Reef in Lincoln City with Chuck Patterson during the 2003/2004 winter when there were, as he remembers, about 35'- 40’ faces with no other surfers around. Six years later, Chuck remains as one of Eric’s selected tow partners for many of the largest swells that he chases.
Our entry for Ride of the Year category is only the first step of the process. Although it is a huge honor and accomplishment it is just an entry nevertheless. With less than two months left in the event, there are many other entries to date in this category from almost a year-long event from all over the world. During the first week of April they will vote for 5 finalist out of each category. Mid-April there will be an all-out Awards Party in Los Angeles where they will announce the winners. Our category has a $50K prize to the 1st place winner.
Eric Akiskalian's past entries:
2007 - Surfer Entry for Biggest Wave in Chile
2007- Surfer Entry 'Worst Wipe Out of the Year' at Shark Park in California
2006 - Surfer Entry for Biggest Wave at Shark Park in California
2005- Photographer Entry for 'Biggest Wave' photographed at Jaws of Dan Moore. His wave took 1st Place
This 49-year old husband and father of two boys, Evan 9 and Jake 3, also has had other past entries as a photographer.
He credits his success to his large support network of family, friends and fellow surfers.
Among them are his local sponsors in Lincoln City; Tim at the Oregon Surf Shop, Diana at Lincoln City Inn, and Chef Jason Miller at Our Home is Your Home.
Other national sponsors include:
Eric says along with Greg Long, Garrett McNamara and many other elite big wave surfers who have also been entered for many big wave rides and categories this year, he has two other friends, Dan Hasselschwert and Ollie Richardson, that live in Newport, Oregon and have received their first entries for the 'Monster Tube' category.
His goals are big but within reach, Eric said, and he believes the positive promotion of big wave surfing on a world level is invaluable.
"I am super stoked to have the ability and means to chase storms all over the world at any given moment and live my dream while sharing great experiences with my family and friends wherever I go. It doesn't get much better!"
His partner Keith Galbraith says Eric's approach is as level and thought out, as it is radical and inventive. He says he is really happy about his tow partner's success.
"He takes every aspect of the sport very serious, knowing how dangerous it can get. He is always pushing the limits and yet being the voice of caution and reason when needed. I am stoked for him to get this nomination and even more stoked that I was a part of helping him get there!"
Roger that Keith, I am really stoked to have my name in it too, and I really never even imagined being able to write this article, let alone have the opportunity to display this gigantic wave video to the public.
NOTE: Conservative wave height measurement provided by: Mr. Patrick Caldwell NOAA Data Center Hawaii Liaison (NESDIS/NODC/NCDDC)Dept. of Oceanography, University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu, Hawaii 96822 USA
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