Interview with a Mavericks Winner: Grant 'Twiggy' Baker
Story by Craig Jarvis
Today, South African Grant 'Twiggy' Baker won his second Body Glove Mavericks Invitational. Since his breakthrough win in 2006, Twig has stayed in the front row of big wave surfing. But this year in particular, he's on a roll. He won the Arnette Punta Galea Challenge in Spain just a few weeks ago and has now backed it up with another Big Wave World Tour victory. We got hold of him, after his win, and minutes prior to his celebrations, via a text message to which Twig replied: Call quick, I’m getting drunk.
Stab: Another win!
Twig: It feels incredible. It was a challenging day out there, and a very tiring day, but it was incredible. I’m stoked right now.
What was the heaviest thing you saw? That wipe-out of Shawn Dollar's. I was paddling back out after a smaller wave. He took off on a bomb and just free fell out of the sky. He landed it, which was insane, but then he hit a bump and got flung and just got murdered. It was heavy. He came up fine though, the rescue team were so on it.
You scored yourself a sweet 10-pointer, too. So, I surf Mavericks a lot. I surf it with Grant Washburn all the time, and I know my lineups. Even when it’s big and gnarly and west, like it was, I’m still pretty sure of my lineups. When I saw that set coming I knew where it was going to unload, so I paddled in a bit. I knew where it was going, and all the other crew were too far out.
So it slipped under them? Greg Long almost got it. He was so close, but like a good friend does, when he realised that he wasn’t going to get it he started shouting me on. I heard him shouting to go and I put my head down. It hit the inside and it was sucking so hard off the reef, a total top to bottom kind of wave, on the inside. I had no idea if I was going to make it or not but I just went. Tyler Fox was on the edge and he went as well but kicked out.
The drop looked so steep. I was leaning so far forward. I thought I was going to go over the handlebars. I dug for a split second then released. That moment was pay off for all the hard work I’ve been putting into my boards and equipment. There wasn’t much more to it, really. I rode the wave out, there was a little inside bit, I think I even claimed it.
We saw. Double shakas. I tell you what, taking a big drop at Mavericks is like nothing else on earth. We surfers always chase the barrel, but a blind drop over the ledge at Mavericks on a solid wave is a big rush.
You were up against some steep competition. I know. Shane Dorian was on my heels the whole event. He beat me in the semis, and he’s pretty much the greatest big wave surfer right now, isn’t he? He might not have all the wins behind him, but when it comes to surfing big waves anywhere in the world, he’s the best, so it was really amazing to beat him. Greg Long as well. He is probably the most accomplished big wave surfer in the world, with all the accolades, and it’s really hard to beat those guys. So I was incredibly stoked to have beaten them in those conditions.
Conditions really did look tough. You have no idea. Every single wave I paddled for and stood up on I thought I had absolutely no chance of making. Obviously you have faith in your equipment and stuff, but the waves were just so heavy, with the west swell and the south wind, that you really thought that they were all unmakeable. Every surfer out there in the event who turned and went on a set wave, they were charging. It was radical out there.
Seems like this Big Wave World Tour is working out under the ASP. It is. Gary Linden has done a lot of hard groundwork and now it all seems to be coming together. Hopefully we can get it to a stage where the kids, the up and comers, can get on the tour in the future and make a living out of it.
You took a bit of a different approach to everyone in the morning, keeping warm in the commentator booth, not getting cold in your wetsuit on the boats. I know. Then I saw that cleanup set just cleave through the lineup. It was so heavy. Mark Healy was so rattled. He didn’t get through that 25-footer and got sucked over and stayed under for two. When I saw that I was just like, oh shit, if Healey’s getting rattled like that we’re in for a serious day. I was like totally scared when I saw that.
But you won! Yeah! Looks like we might have an event at Todos on Wednesday, so we’re just going to keep on moving.
Twiggy for Big Wave World champ! (Laughs) Twiggy for big drinks right now! I’m off to have a party.
Body Glove Mavericks Invitational
1. Grant Baker (Durban, South Africa) 29.33
2. Shane Dorian (Hawaii) 25.53
3. Ryan Augenstein (California) 16.66
4. Tyler Fox (California) 12.66
5. Greg Long (California) 12.00
6. Anthony Tashnick (California) 0.0