Durban’s ‘Twiggy’ bests huge waves to win Mavericks

2014-01-27 00:00

CAPE TOWN — South African veteran surfer Grant “Twiggy” Baker this weekend topped the cream of the world’s big wave surfers when he won the prestigious Mavericks title in California early on Saturday morning (SA time).

The 40-year-old Durbanite was unstoppable from the start, despite challenging conditions at Pillar Point, some 20 minutes south of San Francisco. He reached the finals with a points total of 29,33 from a possible 30 points. This included a perfect surf that scored 10 points.

The Durbanite was also the winner at the Punta Galea big wave surfing challenge in Spain on December 22 and well positioned to win this year’s Xpreshon Big Wave World Tour Title.

He told the Association of Surfing Professionals website his aim was to try and win the Xpreshon Big Wave World Tour Title and “there are three events to go and I really have to focus on each event and be ready for when they might run”.

At Mavericks over the weekend he was certainly focused and ready, dropping in to shred one perfect wave after the other.

Baker’s win at Mavericks is the second in his career. He was a relatively latecomer to the sport when he won the title in 2006.

Another South African, Chris Bertish, won the title at Mavericks in 2010. Bertish also surfed this weekend, but fell out in the first round to sit on the beach and support the masterly surfing shown by his countryman “Twiggy”.

With a strong cross wind from the south that pushed the waves to between six and eight metres high, conditions were deadly for the competitors, but Baker was unfazed by the giant waves.

His main competition came from Hawaii’s big wave legend Shane Dorian and the highly respected Californian Greg Long, but in the finals neither had an answer to Baker’s clinical display.

When Baker was interviewed on the live Internet broadcast after the competition, he wore a scarf with the South African flag and told the viewers how proud he was to be a South African.

He later told Surfer magazine the competition had tired him psychologically.

He said it demanded a lot from a surfer to push himself over that eight metre ledge and take a wave.

“On the top of it you tell yourself there is no way you are going to make it.”

He believes his years of experience at Mavericks enabled him to keep his focus and to be at the right spot when the best waves rolled in.

Although Baker will pocket a larger chunk of the R598 500 prize money, he will not have a lot of time to celebrate his win. If current conditions prevail, there is a good chance that big surf chasers will meet for the next Big Wave World Tour meeting at Todos Santos in Mexico on Wednesday.

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