South Africa's 'Twiggy' Makes the Cut at Mavericks

Grant Baker has a good big wave reputation, and has been a stand-out at the last couple of Red Bull Big Wave Africa events down at Dungeons in Cape Town. Grant has belied his fairly puny frame to paddle into some of the biggest waves of the event, and pull into some of the biggest tubes as well. He is one of the trio of Durbanite big wave surfers of Jason Ribbink. John Whittle and himself, who consistently go down to Cape Town to hit some of the bigger sets, and his fearlessness and lack of machismo are well documented in the South African press. Well now Grant has a chance of showing the rest of the world that he can take the drop at one of the gnarliest big wave paddle events in the world.

SURFERmag.com: Well done Twiggy. You must be stoked with your inclusion for the event.

TWIGGY: Thanks bru. This is the realization of a dream for me which I never really thought possible, but the vote system gave me a gap and I managed to slip in the backdoor.

SURFERmag.com: So are you going to go and hang around that side and hopefully get a few surfs in while waiting, or are you going to wait for a contest call this side?

TWIGGY: I’m going over for the month of January to get some more experience, and then I’m going to come home to wait for the call.

SURFERmag.com: We saw some sick shots of you dropping into some bombs last season. What’s your history of riding Mavs?

TWIGGY: Not too much really. I spent two months there last year and had three swells, one of which was a three-day clean fifteen to twenty-foot swell. I really enjoyed the wave and the people, so all I really wanted to do was to go back this year and go surfing at what I feel is the best big wave paddle spot in the world.

SURFERmag.com: Are you doing any sort of training at the moment? Training specific for the event?

TWIGGY: Well, Grant Washburn is a radical Tequila drinker, so I have been doing some training for that….ha ha ha….No, just the normal stuff – surfing, kiteboarding, a bit of soccer with my mates and some underwater swimming!

SURFERmag.com: What’s the gnarliest thing about surfing Mavs?

TWIGGY: Well, it’s different to Dungeons which is so gnarly because of the huge area involved and the risk of being caught inside. Mav’s on the other hand breaks in the same spot almost every time but the actual wave is so heavy ,just the thickest slab of water I have ever seen. Easier to catch then Dungeons, but a way heavier consequence if you blow it!

SURFERmag.com: You’ve surfed some big waves all over the world. How does Mavs compare to the others?

TWIGGY: It’s the place that from what I have seen has the biggest, heaviest rideable paddle-in waves.

SURFERmag.com: What are your goals with big wave surfing?

TWIGGY: All I really want to do is surf good, barrelling waves, and the big wave thing has given me the opportunity to get sponsored to travel and surf, and that’s about all an average surfer like me can dream of.

SURFERmag.com: We’ve been checking you put some serious hours on the ski as well. What you reckon – tow or paddle?

TWIGGY: Both. There are days for towing and days to paddle but when it’s big, the rush of paddling is the one! I do believe however that if you haven’t paddled up to a certain size then you really shouldn’t be towing over your limits.

SURFERmag.com: There’s another Mavericks (a tremendously popular strip club) in Cape Town. You ever take the drop there?

TWIGGY: (LAUGHING out oud)….I took my girl there once and we had a great time.

SURFERmag.com: Errr, ok. Do you have any sort of strange, big wave surfing rituals? Eating special foods, wearing your lucky booties etc?

TWIGGY: I do like to use some ‘special stuff’ to calm the nerves.

SURFERmag.com: Ok, moving on quickly. How does your big wave equipment differ for Mavericks as opposed to, say, Dungeons?

TWIGGY: Well, I have a magic 9’6″ for Dungeons shaped by Baron Stander Jnr which I use religiously and Gary Linden lent me a great board last year for Mav’s but they were two totally different boards. Beggars can’t be chooses so what ever I can beg, borrow or steal in the USA will be just fine.

Related Information

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SURFERmag.com: Who looks like the best surfer out at Mavs on the heavy days? Who looks completely at ease out there?

TWIGGY: Jeff Clark

SURFERmag.com: Who is going to caddy for you out there?

TWIGGY: My mate Reg Macdonald. We grew up together at Cave Rock and the North Coast of Natal and he now owns a bunch of nightclubs in Hollywood, so it pays for me to cut him in.

SURFERmag.com: Whatchu gonna do if you win?

TWIGGY: I suppose everyone has a chance once the waves get big, but I’m just going over to watch and learn, and hopefully bring back some new ideas to share with the boys in Cape Town.

SURFERmag.com: Well, good luck ma bru. The boys in South Africa, along with a couple of million other people, are going to be watching you.

TWIGGY: Thanks. Stoked!