By Michael Kew
For a few blustery days each June, the world’s windsurf stage veers to Eagle Rock in Pistol River State Park, Oregon.
“Everyone loves to come here and sail, to rip it up, to take advantage of what we have,” Harbor's Luke Mathison said. “It’s a big playground.”
The bearded Mathison, a 20-year Curry County windsurfing vet, stood atop the dunes, buffeted by a near-gale, and smiled as he watched another professional windsurfer launch 30 vertical feet off another large wave.
“We’ve always had good conditions for this event,” he said, “but this year has been exceptional.”
For a Pistol River resident like James Lundin, the Wave Bash is akin to having the Super Bowl or World Cup in his front yard.
“It provides us with a great opportunity to watch some of the best sailors in the world perform,” he said, wetsuited, minutes before his final Grandmasters-division heat. “It inspires us greatly to try to achieve more than we already do. It also gives sailors the opportunity to spread the word about this area. It’s a nice place to come and hang out for anyone who enjoys recreation, because it’s not just about windsurfing here. There are lots of other things to do.”
Lundin’s good friend (and fellow Grandmasters competitor) Dwight Bode, who lives just north of Brookings, agreed.
“The Wave Bash is a great event that brings a lot of people out to watch what we really do out here,” Bode said. “People forget that it’s much more than just a beautiful coastline. People come from all over the world to sail here. It’s an epic place.”
Ted Eady, owner of Inn at the Beachcomber, provided lodging for Wave Bash competitors, plus barbecue soirees and fresh beer from Gold Beach’s Arch Rock.
“We’ve had a bunch of happy people here,” he said. “And I noticed there were more rooms booked by visitors who came specifically to watch the event. Anything you can do to put Curry County in some sort of international spotlight is good.”
Yet, ultimately, the Wave Bash is communal, grassroots exhibition, aided in large part by Pistol River’s Dana Miller, a windsurfer for more than three decades.
“It puts us on the map,” Miller said, grinning. “Not that the place isn’t already on the map—you can walk into a bar in Nepal and they’ve heard of Pistol River. It’s legendary in windsurfing circles. This place has everything going for it. It’s a windsurfer’s dream.”