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Oregon Gigantic Wave Nominated for Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards
Oregon Coast Notes - Surf Report

Surfer Eric Akiskalian & Salem-News.com photographer Tim King are in the running for Billabong's Ride of the Year.

Salem-News Photo

"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 nominated 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 nomination 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...


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, 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...


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.


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.


This 49-year old husband and father of two boys, Evan 9 and Jake 3, also has had other entry nominations 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.

Eric says along with Greg Long and Garrett McNamara who have also been nominated 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 entry nominations 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.


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.

Be sure to read the entire Salem-News.com article and watch Eric Akiskalian's wave, regular speed and slow motion, filmed by Tim King