SA’s Baker is Mavericks champ

8 February 2006

Durban surfer Grant “Twiggy” Baker has claimed the prestigious Mavericks surf title at Half Moon Bay in California, in a contest dubbed “The Super Bowl of Surfing”.

Baker made it into the big wave contest, often labelled “the most dangerous surf contest on the globe,” only after online voters of Surfer Magazine decided he deserved a spot in the line-up. He didn’t disappoint those who showed their support for him.

‘An impossible dream’
Twice he scored perfect 10s to walk away with the win and $30 000 in prize money. “I never thought this was possible for me,” Baker said. “For someone from South Africa, this is an impossible dream.”

As is the case for the Red Bull Big Wave Africa (BWA), surfed at Dungeons off Cape Point in South Africa, the Mavericks contest is surfed only when the conditions are deemed right and on Tuesday they were.

Baker came up big early on, scoring his first perfect wave in the third heat of the first round. Then, when it counted most, he notched his second 10 in the final to capture the honours.

It was the first time a non-Santa Cruz-based surfer has claimed the victory. With the local guys (Santa Cruz is about 100 kilometres from Mavericks) having the opportunity to experience the testing waves year round, they had always previously won, but not this time as Baker delivered a magical performance.

‘The best I’ve ever surfed’
“That’s the best I’ve ever surfed,” said Baker afterwards. “There were 20-foot waves out there.big bombs. I had a hideous wipeout. I made a couple rides that I shouldn’t have. What a day!”

Contest organiser Jeff Clark, the man who discovered the break at Mavericks, commented: “Every wave at Mavericks is a challenge.”

Daryl ‘Flea’ Virostko, a three-time winner of the event, and a visitor to South Africa for the Red Bull Big Wave Africa, failed to make an impression this time round, while defending champion Anthony Tashnick, who has also contested the BWA, was knocked out early on.

Santa Cruz local Tyler Smith finished second to Baker and took home $10 000 for his efforts, while Brock Little pocketed $5 000 for third place.