Twiggy saw it coming. One week before the 10th Annual Red Bull Big Wave Africa began its 30-day waiting period, that big, purple and black blob on the charts. Knowing what this meant for Capetown’s notorious deepwater reefs, he alerted officials and made sure they were ready to flip the switch. “Don’t worry, Twig,” said event directors Gary Linden and Jonathon Paarman. “We see it, too. We’ll be ready.”

And sure enough — after battling a bout with the flu and grabbing a few bombs during Friday’s warmup session, Twiggy and his American partner in charging Greg Long found themselves out in the Dungeons lineup on Saturday at dawn, sizing up conditions for their first heats. “To be honest, we were disappointed early on,” says Twig. “There was a lot of lump and not many sets at first light. But as soon as the competitors' boat rounded the headland at Hout Bay, sets started pouring in.”

That was just the beginning. Because over the next five hours, Dungeons showed its true potential as a paddle-in gladiator pit, tossing out some of the largest surf in competition since the 1990 Eddie Aikau event. Twenty-five boards snapped, Jasson Ribbink suffered a concussion, Mike Schlebach dislocated his shoulder, Mark Healey busted his eardrum and a handful of surfers rode the waves of their lives. “The semis was when it really came together,” says Twig. “Just light offshore and massive bombs.” One wave in particular — a wave that saw Twiggy in the saddle and local Capetonian James Taylor too deep, will have to go down as the biggest wave ever paddled in to at Dungeons. “We measured the photo this morning and came up with {{{57}}} feet,” says Twig. “So it’s definitely up there.”

The other ride of note was Long’s perfect 10 — a massive tuberide across the inside bowl section. “I’m calling it the best wave ever ridden at Dungeons,” says Twig.

On to the final. Three Americans: Long, Mark Healey, Anthony Tashnick. Two South Africans: Twiggy and local darkhorse James Taylor. And one Brazilian: big-wave legend Carlos Burle. Before the final started, Greg approached Twiggy and proposed another “splitting of the prizemoney.” “No, bru. Not this time,” replied Twig. And thus ensued an all-out final with some heavy jockeying and hassling. Healey freefell from the sky twice and busted his eardrum, which put him out of contention. Long got a 9.5 early, while Twig and Burle both followed up with solid scores. But then the tide started to fill in, making the big sets fewer and further between. Twig found another massive peak and claimed it for the extra half-point. Long remained out the back, waiting at least 20 minutes to add to his near perfect score. Late in the final, one last, massive set rolled through, but no one was in position due to all the jockeying. “It was definitely the most competitive big-wave final I’ve been in with all the hassling,” said Twig. “It was actually real refreshing.”

Even more refreshing was his unanimous victory over runner-up Burle and third-place Greg Long, earning {{{100}}},000 rand (about 15 grand) and the distinction of being one of two surfers who have won both the Mavericks event and the Red Bull BWA. (the other is his buddy Greg Long.). “We’re still celebrating over here,” said Twig a day later. “Now, if only I can get an invite to the Eddie Ailkau. All I want is a shot.”

Anthony Tashnick


1.Grant "Twiggy" Baker
2.Carlos Burle
3.Greg Long
4.James Taylor
5.Anthony Tashnick
6.Mark Healey


DA KINE IKAIKA AWARD (doing the extraordinary)
Mark Healey

James Taylor

Carlos Burle

Greg Long

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