The organizers take safety of the athletes very seriously, and have brought in Eric Akiskalian from Towsurfer.com to help lead the team. Eric brings 15 years of experience at Nelscott Reef and knows all of the unique and logistical challenges to this spot better than anyone.
“One of the biggest challenges we have is simply getting everyone out to the reef in a timely and safe manner. On big days, you just can’t paddle out thru the pounding beach break. You need a PWC assist, and even then, it takes a lot of jockeying around on a ski to punch through 20’ beach break.” said Akiskalian. “Once out there, we operate on a man on man basis, one ski for each surfer in the water. We have some of the best watermen in the world operating the skis, while constantly focusing on risk management and keeping everyone safe throughout the event.”
SURFING AND TRAINING BACKGROUND:
Today at 57, Eric Akiskalian has become one of the most respected big wave tow-in surfers, promoters, ocean safety and international logistics specialists in the industry. Eric grew up surfing in Santa Barbara, CA and has been a local fixture at Rincon Point ‘The Queen of The Coast’ since 1975. Eric also continues to push his personal limits and goals of chasing big swells around the world, all while promoting the sport he loves.
Eric currently owns and manages Towsurfer.com which is a website he founded in 1998 to promote the sport of big wave surfing, the athletes, contests, news, interviews and swell forecasts. There is also an online store offering safety components to outfit all PWC’s and a wide range of tow-in equipment. Eric is now offering a list of professional services from PWC training, ocean safety/education, water safety, tow-in training, travel surf guide, commentary to international logistics for television/film/event/sports productions.
OCEAN SAFETY, PWC TRAINING, CERTIFICATIONS, PROJECTS:
WSL Big Wave Event – Water Safety – Lincoln City, Oregon
Red Chargers Film Project – Water Safety and Shuttle – Nazare, Portugal
Ironman of Surfing – Ocean Safety and Water Patrol
U.S. Coast Guard – Ocean Search and Rescue Training
Ocean Safety Educational Course University of Hawaii State License
Archie Kalepa – Ocean Safety Rescue and PWC Technician Course Maui, HI
Brian Keaulana – Risk Management Course System and Incident Command
Shawn Alladio – K-38 Ocean Rescue and PWC Operation
Certified in CPR & First Aid
PWC Operation and Experience in Lakes and Rivers since 1980
PWC Operation and Experience in Large Surf Conditions since 2000
Vessel Safety Check– U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary
Eric’s training program emphasizes on extensive physical and mental training, healthy diet, drug, and alcohol-free lifestyle, along with maintaining constant respect for the ocean and making safety the number one priority.
His expertise and level of safety knowledge comes from his years of surfing and training in locations like Mavericks, CA – Jaws, HI – Teahupo’o, Tahiti – Shark Park, CA – Cortes Banks, CA – Todos Santos, Mexico – Puerto Escondido, Mexico – Nelscott Reef and South Reef, OR – Puente De Lobos, Chile – Ghost Trees, CA – Outer Reefs, North Shore, HI – Cloudbreak Fiji, – Nazare, Portugal and other global locations.
BIG WAVE AWARDS:
2017 WSL XXL Biggest Wave Entry
2016 WSL XXL Biggest Wave Entry
2015 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Entry
2014 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Entry
2013 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Entry
2012 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Entry
2011 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Finalist
2010 Billabong XXL Ride of the Year Entry
2009 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Entry
2008 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Entry
2007 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Entry
2006 Billabong XXL Worst Wipe Out of the Year Finalist
2006 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Photo Finalist/Winner
2005 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave / Monster Tube Entry
2004 Billabong XXL Biggest Wave Entry
* ‘RED CHARGERS’ Nazare, Portugal Big Wave Film Project:
Garrett McNamara and The Go Big Project – 2015-2016
* ‘Maverick Moments’ Television Reality Show – 2015-2017
Talent, Water Safety Specialist, Correspondent, Media
* ‘Big -Wave Addicts Reality Show’: September 2010-2014
Executive Producer/Director/Talent – Documenting big-wave surf adventures in the Pacific Northwest. YouTube-Vimeo-EpicTV
* Owner Towsurfer.com: March 1998 to Current:
Online sales, services, advertising, website content, ocean education, water safety, event promotions and social media marketing.
* Founder/President ‘Association of Professional Towsurfers’ (APT): 2003-2012
A. This Corporation was a non-profit mutual benefit corporation organized under the Non-Profit Mutual Benefit Corporation Law. The purpose of this corporation was to engage in any lawful act or activity for which a corporation may be organized under such law.
B. The specific purpose of this corporation was to promote and encourage the responsible growth and development of professional tow-in surfing; to encourage safety, in connection therewith; to develop and to sanction events, including championships; and to improve business conditions in connection with the foregoing; all for the benefit of professional competitor members, and other members of the Corporation, and promoters and sponsors of sanctioned tow-in surfing events.
“Eric Akiskalian ‘AKA’ TOWSURFER, what a solid guy, always ready, always organized and forever CHARGING forward!!! I have known Eric of Towsurfer.com for over 15 years and I have traveled to many global big wave destinations with him as well. Over the years, he has demonstrated his dedication, expertise, time and passion to promoting our sport and keeping surfers safe with assisting in water safety and rescue.
As of recent, I have personally had him work with me in Nazare, Portugal and Mavericks, CA for water safety, assist and rescue for our crew. I trust his abilities and level of experience with my life in any situation that he is willing to put himself in. He’s very calculated and confident, but he also knows that mistakes and bad situations will happen to the best. He’s mentally and physically prepared for the worst case scenarios. He’s a great friend with a big heart and very easy to work with. Let’s go!!!” – Garrett McNamara / Current Guinness World Record Holder for Biggest Wave Surfed Nazare, Portugal / HI-USA