Durban is not the first place one thinks of when the subject of massive waves is discussed. Granted, the KZN coast is riddled with many world-class right-hand point breaks, A-frame beach breaks, and many lesser-known mutant slabs that devour surfboards for breakfast, but the majority of these waves stop offering surfers real opportunity without jet ski assistance around the 8-12 foot range.
However, Grant Twiggy Baker, the Durban-born Yamaha rider, and recently crowned Big Wave World Tour Champion for the second time is not an enigma. He’s an appropriate example of how solid foundations and constant hard work can lead to success that scales outward with not much to reign it back.
What Grant and his fellow Big Wave World Tour competitors confront on a regular workday is of course very different from the average person. It also diverges from other professional surfers because the competitors on the BWWT deal with the traumatic ordeal that comes with the genuine threat of death every time they go to work. Work isn’t the right word. Competition for these surfers is just one side of the wax-covered coin.
All of the BWWT competitors would still be hucking themselves over the ledge without a payday, so it comes down to real passion and love. Competition is necessary for the sport’s evolution, and it also keeps the lights on at home, however. There’s a decent amount of bravado and gallantry in this fast-moving sports arena too. It keeps the competitiveness charged and electric. In this sport, the playing field is the ocean, so the only consistency you can achieve is with your health and fitness as the sea changes constantly and unpredictably.
Twiggy’s great result this season began with a stunning performance at Puerto Escondido in Mexico where he dominated the early rounds to wind up with a perfect 10 in the final that blew spectators’ minds in the pumping 12 to 15-foot waves.
Twiggy has been going to Puerto for 20 years but the stars aligned this year with the eyes of the surfing world fixed on his bold approach. In the second event at Peahi in Hawaii earlier this month, Twiggy was snubbed out by an in-form Maui local Billy Kemper although Twiggy managed to snag a few bomb sets and finished in a respectable third place.
In the final event in Nazare, Portugal in December, Twiggy managed a respectable semi-final placing in the most challenging and arguably the most dangerous conditions of any of the events that were run before this season. Congrats to Twiggy for winning his second Big Wave World Tour trophy! You deserve all the beers and high fives!