Nazare Too Dangerous: Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker
World number one and former BWWT Champ, Grant Baker, can’t see himself returning to Nazare to compete.
After a horror day of injuries and potentially fatal near misses, South African Big Wave World Tour world number one, Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker, has taken to Instagram to say he can’t see himself returning to compete at the Portuguese big wave event in Nazare.
“Nazare as a wave is a phenom, as challenging and beautiful as any big wave I've surfed but the dangers involved seem to outweigh the rewards. Those 20 minutes during each heat, on the back of a ski, holding on with all your strength while jumping 10 foot foamies, were some of the most terrifying experiences of my life and something I can't see myself repeating?” he wrote.
While not the heaviest wave in the world in terms of ride-ability, what Nazare lacks in that department it makes up for with sheer chaos in the lineup. Where reef breaks offer a natural channel in which to escape, Nazare is a beachbreak subject to the full randomness and raw energy of the tremendous storm swells required to run events like this.
The contest, which was won by Australian Jamie Mitchell, made for compulsive viewing with huge, sketchy drops, potentially fatal near misses and utter carnage on all fronts. Former World Tour surfer and big wave barrel specialist, Damien Hobgood, was nearly killed after a jet ski landed on him while attempting to make it out from shore for the start of his semifinal. His driver and fellow big wave surfer, Garret McNamara, was forced to abandon ship at the crest of a 10-foot teepee with Damo still on the back of it. The Floridian barely had time to react before he was thrown off and hit with what he believes was the 300-plus kilogram (700 pound) weight of the jet ski.
“I knew I had to distance myself from the Jet Ski, so I tried to get away from it while I was in the air – and it felt like we were in the air forever – and then suddenly it was like getting hit with a ton of bricks, a full car crash,” he told Surfing Magazine, in a detailed interview.
Elsewhere, Hawaiian Aaron Gold suffered an injured hand, Portuguese Joao de Macedo a black eye, American Nic Lamb a concussion, and Brit Tom Butler was hospitalised with suspected water on the lungs.
For event winner, Australian Jamie Mitchell, the silverware could become some of the most sought after in world surfing should Nazare never run again. The world class watermen sure earned it, reigning supreme and sitting pretty after a day of cartoonish victory at sea conditions.