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Keala Kennelly claims Nelscott Reef Women's event

Nelscott Reef : photo Richard Hallman/

Nelscott Reef Tow-In Classic Women's Exhibition

Nelscott Reef Oregon
1 October - 31 December 2010

Keala Kennelly Wins 2010 Nelscott Reef Women's Exhibition

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 4 November, 2010 : - - Lincoln City, Oregon -- Keala Kennelly wins the 2010 Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic Women’s Exhibition, making the  history books and opening the door for women’s big wave surfing.

In perfect conditions on the Oregon coast, three women became the first to surf at Nelscott Reef, during the world’s first Women’s big
wave event.  Keala Kennely, Mercedes Maidana, and Savannah Shaughnessy battled it out during a 1-hour heat.  Each surfer was able
to get at least two scoring waves, making it a very even playing field.

Big Wave World Tour Director, Gary Linden suited up and got out in the water with the women to share his knowledge of the reef and
ensure that they were able to capitalize on the one-hour heat.  Keala broke the ice by catching the first wave, followed by a nasty wipeout by Savannah. 

Both girls caught several nice waves as the heat progressed.  Mercedes had a very strong finish, catching one of the nicest waves of the day during the last set of the heat.  In the end, Keala’s scores were strong enough to take the win. For the past five years, Nelscott Reef operated as a tow in event. 

Organizers had been trying to get women involved in their contest for several years, but there were not enough all female tow in teams to make a heat.  It was not until this year, when they made the switch to an all paddle in event, and with the help of sponsors RedBull and the Nelscott Reef Surf Shop, that they were able to finally put this together.


Nelscott Reef : photo Richard Hallman/

“We have been wanting to do this for years.  I am so stoked that you three were able to make it and take part in the first ever women’s
big wave event”, said John Forse, event organizer. The women were equally as excited and grateful. They came up to Oregon to show world what they do and that they can compete in conditions like this. 

“Thank you Nelscott Reef for giving us the chance to surf this amazing wave”, said Mercedes Maidana.  “Thanks to all the organizers
and crew for believing in us girls and for giving us this space to show the world what we love to do the most.  We’ll see you next year for sure, hopefully with more women and bigger waves!” After learning that she was the first woman to ride a wave at Nelscott, Keala replied with a surprised and excited “Really..REALLY”?

“Now that I know, it makes it that much more special”, said Keala during the award ceremony. “I want to dedicate this to Andy Irons,
who was like a brother to me”, referring to the sudden loss of surfing great, Andy Irons.  A moment of silence was also held during the trophy presentation for the men, led by Kealii Mamala.

The Nelscott Reef Big Wave Classic has now successfully run six consecutive years.  This was the first year as a paddle in only event,
and the first to include women.  The women’s exhibition closes out a perfect contest under absolutely unreal conditions and opens the door for future womens events. 

The RedBull team was on hand taking video and photos of the event, which will be available on the web shortly. For detailed results, photos, and additional information on the event, visit the Nelscott Reef web page at and

Previous reports:
# 1 :
Nelscott Reef wait period begins, website launches
# 2 : Nelscott Reef to hold first women's big-wave event
# 3 : GREEN light and 20ft + swell for Nelscott Reef event   
# 4 : Kohl Christensen wins Nelscott Reef Big Wave event
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Adam Wagner

Big Wave - Surfersvillage


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