Sunday, October 17, 2021

Lincoln City’s Big Wave Classic nixed due to outside interference

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UPDATE: Adam Wagner and Gabe Smith fined $195 each by City of Lincoln City for violating special events permit law.

Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic
John Forse surfs Nelscott Reef

Lincoln City, Oregon – John Forse, founder and organizer of the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic, issued a press release today announcing the closing of its 13th season. Forse, a native of Lincoln City, said the event didn’t run this year due to interference by an unpermitted outside group, who used a strikingly similar name, and website, thereby confusing sponsors into giving money to the rogue group.

big wave classic
“There are people getting rolled over by this log. had I not made it up the hill I would have died.” – Headstand Photography’s Jon Monroe

On November 29, 2017, a contestable swell was forecasted and a group calling themselves the similar sounding Nelscott Reef Big Wave Pro-Am, had surfers in the water, according to Forse. In Dec. 2017, we reported that tourists were almost crushed by a huge rolling log in the surf because no safety monitors were established. Our publisher, Justin Werner, testified at the December 11, 2017 City Council meeting about the safety concerns surrounding the group’s unsanctioned activities:

Following the meeting, Forse appeared before the council four more times and pleaded with the city to cite the unlicensed operators. After the fourth meeting, City Manager Ron Chandler told Forse the City found the rogue event organizers in violation.

Organizers of the bootleg event were then cited by Lincoln City Police Chief Keith Kilian for failure to obtain the proper permits and licenses. Gabe Smith and Adam Wagner, both from Portland, are required to appear in Lincoln City Municipal Court on April 12th at 9:00am. Failure to appear is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a year in jail, and a $6,250 fine.

Numerous local businesses unwittingly gave money to Smith and Wagner, who told them they would be featured on banners and in a live webcast for a contest that never materialized. These businesses included 10 Barrel Brewing Co., Inn at Lincoln City, Roby’s Furniture and Appliance, Oregon Coast Bank, The Coho, Coldwell Banker, JKI Realty, D Sands Motel, Meredith Lodging, Dive N’ Surf, Salmon River Contractors, Olivia Beach, A Vista d’ Mar, Yaquina Cab, Naked Winery, Anchor Storage, Zuhg Surf Shop, Henkels Law, and many others. They are welcome to attend the court hearing to voice their concerns and demand their money be returned.

Fortunately, the Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic will return next fall for the 14th annual event with a $10,000 purse and webcast. For more event info visit:

The Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic is a one day event that is held between October and March. The event is called on three days notice of optimal conditions. Surfers come to Lincoln City from around the world to ride the biggest wave on the Oregon Coast: our own Nelscott Reef.

Justin Werner
I'm publisher of Lincoln City Homepage. Also the web guy, photographer, cameraman, video editor, sportswriter, tech support, beat reporter, cat trainer and e-bike enthusiast. I have a passion for telling people's stories and keeping my fellow citizens informed.

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  1. Thanks to the blood thirsty city attorney civil citations now result in jail time. The Chief of police is still issuing civil citations bypassing enforcement departments. Who the h*** is in charge? Obviously the city attorney because its not the city manager! Insane council and staff is out of control!


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Celeb surfers descend on Nelscott Reef for big wave riding

A handful of surfing elite and some locals took to Lincoln City's ocean Thursday as the swell was right for big wave surfing at Nelscott Reef.



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