27 January 2014
South Africa’s Grant “Twiggy” Baker won the prestigious Body Glove Mavericks Invitational in waves with faces exceeding 13 metres (40 feet) at Pillar Point, Half Moon Bay in Santa Cruz, California on Friday.
Competing against 23 of the world’s best big wave chargers in the fourth stop on the Xpreshon Big Wave World Tour, Baker gave a clinic in high-performance big wave surfing throughout the event, winning his round one heat, finishing second in the semis, and dominating the final.
The 40-year-old Durbanite caught the most waves, taking off in the perfect position, manoeuvring his way around the bone-crushing white-water, and pulling into and emerging from a gaping tube.
He posted two perfect 10-point rides on the day, the first in round one and the other in the final, where he finished with a near perfect-tally of 29.33 out of 30.
‘I’m feeling pretty good’
“I’m feeling pretty good, amazing in fact,” Baker said on the headquarters boat after the final.
“Two of my favourite surfers in the world, Shane Dorian and Greg Long, were in the final so to win Mavericks is the greatest feeling in the world.
“The waves were pretty big,” he added. “There were some 20-foot sets [40-foot on the face] in the final. The wind made it choppy and it looked like there was no way you could make it.
“We just put our heads down and had to go because it was the final. I just got lucky that I didn’t hit a bump halfway down and get catapulted.”
After being chaired around the boat by Capetonians Frank Soloman and Chris Bertish, the 2010 champion, who exited in round one, Baker concluded: “I’d like to thank everyone in South Africa for their support. This is it, we are the best.”
Second Mavericks title
The victory was Baker’s second at Mavericks after his triumph in 2006 and also his second in succession on the Big Wave World Tour following his win in the Arnette Punta Galea Challenge in Spain in December. He now holds a substantial lead in the 2013/14 rankings.
Shane Dorian (Hawaii) finished runner-up despite only arriving at the event venue at 05:00 on the day of the competition after spending eight hours on Thursday paddling into enormous waves at Jaws on the Hawaiian island of Maui.
The huge waves and tricky wind conditions produced some spectacular wipeouts, including Mark Healy’s two wave-hold down, Anthony Tashnick’s upside-down, over-the-falls tumble, and Shawn Dollar’s death-defying dive when he was catapulted off his board.