Stab Magazine | Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker’s Guide To The Big Wave World

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Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker’s Guide To The Big Wave World

Like the normal world, but with the volume turned way up.

news // Jun 24, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Tomorrow, Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker will line up in one of the most anticipated events of the year, the Puerto Escondido Big Wave World Tour event, expected to run in “30 foot-plus” conditions, according to the WSL.

Twiggy is the greatest South African big wave surfer of all time, and a staunch and highly-respected advocate of this famously roots pursuit. Stab syphoned the below information from Twig some weeks ago, as he stood on the beach in Durban, following a morning of diving and spearing fish. This is his guide to the Puerto Escondido and the rest of the big wave galaxy, with a bonus comment on the state of play at the end.

ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 Grant twiggy Baker jaws main Marc Chambers

Twig has a firm grip on every famous thunderdome in the world – Jaws (pictured) included. Photo: Marc Chambers

“I think Jaws kinda speaks for itself. And what the guys like Albee (Layer) and Ian Walsh and Shane Dorian are doing out there, it’s obviously leading the way in big wave surfing. We’re yet to really find a wave similar to that in the style of maybe Cloudbreak where you’ve got the ability to get a 20 foot barrel. As far as high performance goes I think everybody can see what Jaws is capable of. The only thing you have to realise about Jaws is the highlight reel, you see five amazing waves and 10 wipeouts. What you don’t see are the 100 other waves people get and get flogged on and don’t make it around the section and all the rest. What you see on the highlight reel compared to reality are two different things. I’ve been out there for a couple years and I still haven’t had that wave where you take off on the north peak and get barrelled throughout the west bowl and spat out in the channel. Even though it looks real perfect, it’s not actually.”


“It’s the place where you can really get the biggest barrel. Puerto gets 50 foot on the face and still holds its A-frame shape. It’s the place where you can take off deep behind the section, backdoor a huge barrel and get a five-second, 15 to 20-foot tube. When the event runs at Puerto, I think it will blow peoples’ minds on exactly the same level as Cloudbreak and the Jaws stuff did. I think Puerto is right up there on that level with those waves, plus it’s a beachbreak, which makes it even more exciting. Probably the scariest place to surf at that size ’cause of how shifty it is, and there’s no real line-ups. I love Puerto and I think it’s gonna have its coming out party here for sure.”


Roka Puta
“The whole Basque country is just dripping in amazing big waves. I’ve been going there for six or seven years now. I go every winter for a few weeks. The whole Basque area is amazing – the food, the people, the culture, everything makes the place incredible. And then you have waves like Punta Galea and Roka Puta, which are world class. The cherry on top of the whole area is when Roka Puta is firing, 15 to 18 feet and the offshores are blowing. It’s the place where you can also get the waves of a lifetime. You can take off on the back ledge, backdoor the barrel section and come out on the boil. It’s a pretty awesome wave. Again, I don’t think we’ve seen it to its full potential. We’ve touched on it but I think in the upcoming years we’ll see its true colours.”

(And the fade in this clip?) “That’s my friend Adur, he owns Pukas (surfboards), he’s my sponsor. I paddled deeper and shouted for him to go so it wasn’t an actual burn, but it did put me in a weird place.”


NicBothma Dungeons GrantBaker

Even if conditions aren’t ideal, if Dungeons is breaking, Twig is likely on it. Photo: Nic Bothma

“Dungeons obviously gets to my heart. It’s South Africa’s premier big wave spot. There’s rumours the event might be coming back this year. When Dungeons is on, which is rare (we’re lucky to get the conditions together once a year), it’s comparable to the very best big waves. More of a Cortez (Bank) style wave, with a shifty outside roll-in take off zone where you can get a roll in to a double-up barrel. If you get the right one and it hits the reef properly you can get a five to 10-second tube across that whole reef on a 25 foot wave. Even though it’s a rare animal, we have seen it do that in the past, and I mean, Greg Long won the XXL out there doing something like that. And I’ve seen some amazing rides go down from the locals over the years. If the WSL comes back with all its cameras and we get a special day like that it could finally be shown in its true light and what it’s capable of. I think that’s what’s been happening recently. In the past we’ve had one or two cameras, far away angles and the big wave scene has never really been captured 100 percent correctly. Now with these (Big Wave World Tour) contests you’ve got the WSL putting on all these amazing shows with cameras from every angle, so you can really get an idea of what we’ve been doing the past 10, 15 years. I think it’s really opened the window for people to appreciate what we’ve been doing out there in the ocean.”


“I only surfed it that one day in 2012 (the day of days, during the Volcom Pipe Pro call-off). I got out there in the morning, it was six to eight feet and I got an amazing barrel the whole length of the reef, on the inside reef before it got too big. Obviously they called the contest off and we paddled out again once it was pumping and I got two of my most memorable waves that afternoon. We’ve been waiting for it to do the same thing ever since. Sure it will do it again, but when? It’s hard to say. Even Jaws lately, it’s had all the limelight, but Cloudbreak at 20 feet with the wind right and the swell direction just right, that is the very best big wave in the world. And that day was still the best day any of us have ever surfed.”


Nathan Florence 2

No, this ain’t Twig, but it is a taste of what can go on further out than the North Shore spots you know so well. Oahu outer reef, as navigated by Nathan Florence, from Stab issue 67. Photo: Daniel Russo

Outer Reef Oahu
“There’s a whole bunch of outer reefs on Oahu that have been totally left out of the limelight. Jaws has been attracting everyone to Maui on every sniff of a big swell and what that’s done is just open up all the outer reefs off Oahu. There’s two or three in particular that are fast, down-the-line, barreling waves. The last couple years I’ve given Jaws a miss on a lot of swells people are going over to and ended up surfing with one or two friends or even by myself on these outer reefs. That’s what happens when a new wave comes up and everyone is attracted and drawn to it. All these other waves are left open. There’s one wave in particular on the North Shore, the guys who surf it know what the wave is, and the footage and photos that will come out of that wave in the near future will blow minds. It’s basically a kilometre-long, below sea-level, 20-foot barrel when it’s on and we’ve only just started touching on it the last couple seasons. I think its also gonna blow minds pretty soon.”



ScaleWidthWyIxMjAwIl0 GUR 1377

An underground fave, The Right. Photo: Chris Gurney

The big wave galaxy
“Guys are doing it all over the world. The focus is on Jaws and that’s where everyone goes, but there’s underground big wave guys all over the world surfing with one or two guys out and just charging. That’s the beauty of big wave surfing, you can choose what you wanna be. You can still be that underground guy surfing by himself – there are so many waves out there no one knows about. Or you can be the limelight guy charging and getting barrelled at Jaws. The options in big wave surfing are wide open. 

“One more thing: The reason why it’s becoming so widely popular with the mainstream is because it’s all relative; a new guy starting to surf faced with a six foot wave will feel the same fear me and the other big wave guys feel when facing a sixty foot wave. The fear is the same and I think thats a big reason why it’s so popular right now.”


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