Alex Gray wins at Nelscott
The Dive N' Surf Oregon Pro
The fifth stop of the 2013/14 Big Wave World Tour, the Dive N' Surf Oregon Pro was held at Nelscott Reef in clean, 30-foot surf. And while big names like Greg Long and Grant "Twiggy" Baker were on hand for the contest, it was wildcard Alex Gray that dominated from beginning to end. A former NSSA star, in recent years Gray's been paying his dues in big surf, and it appears to be paying off.
When the contest got underway in the morning the water was glassy and the surf was as clean as it gets on the Oregon coast. Alex Gray got busy early and kept the momentum going all day.
The finalists of the Dive N' Surf Oregon Pro, a hard charging, salty pack of humans if ever there was one. From left to right: Anthony Tashnick, Alex Gray, Will Skudin, Shawn Dollar, Kohl Christensen.
Women's Super Heat
For the first time in Big Wave World Tour history the ladies were included. Winning the "Women's Super Heat" was California's Bianca Vallenti, followed by Andrea Moller, Keala Kennelly, Savannah Shaughnessy, Jamila Star, Paige Alms, Wreena Delgado, and Mercedes Maidana. The surfing was brilliant, and for awhile Star surfed in the 48-degree water in her bikini.
"Today was a good day. Congratulations to everyone," wrote Gray on his Instagram feed. "We are bringing it home to the #southbay! This one's for Chris Gray, Jim Miller, Kirk McNulty, and Bob Meistrell."
Sure the trophy is a beat-up, old diving tank with a sticker on it, but for Gray it couldn't be more beautiful. Not just another contest win, to take top honors at a Big Wave World Tour event puts him in distinguished company, a fact not lost on the always humble Gray.
Throughout the contest big-wave world record holder Shawn Dollar looked like the man to beat. Surviving late drops and threading dangerous lines, it was as if he was toying with the North Pacific energy. He would eventually settle for second place behind Alex Gray.
Lincoln City, Ore.
Nelscott, Ore., where the air is clean, the men wear plaid, the trees grow tall and straight, and the waves are massive. The only surf contest of note in the Pacific Northwest, the Dive N' Surf Oregon Pro enjoys quite the picturesque backdrop.
Grant "Twiggy" Baker
Leading the Big Wave World Title ratings, Grant "Twiggy" Baker has been on a tear this year. While he finished third in Oregon, with one more event left on the calendar, he's looking like a lock to win the 2013/14 Big Wave World Title.
Making is way out west on the Oregon trail, New York's Will Skudin has asserted himself as the premier big-wave rider from the East Coast. Finishing fifth in the final, the result puts Skudin on the map and helps him climb up from the bottom of the Big Wave World Tour ratings.
Always a threat in big, cold surf, Santa Cruz's Anthony Tashnick made it all the way to the final, but couldn't find the high scoring waves he needed and ended up finishing sixth.
Colin Dwyer, Travis Payne
Sharing is caring ... until somebody gets mowed down by the white water. Colin Dwyer and Travis Payne wrangled this big one in the morning, but it ended up working out much better for Dwyer who made it to the safety of the shoulder. Payne meanwhile went for a swim.
Riding a 9'6" that weighed close to 20 pounds, Alex Gray's board played a key role in his victory. Able to negotiate the chop and turbulence on the wave face, the board was heavy enough to not only get Gray into some big waves, but also survive the drop to the bottom.
Big Wave Sliding
A shark's eye view of what it looks like to stroke into the left at Nelscott Reef. Needless to say, the wave is not for the faint of heart.