Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker beat out a field of high-flying surfers to win his second consecutive Oakley One Wave Wonder title and nab the biggest single-wave prize purse in South African surfing.
Baker won the Ride of the Season (open from 1 January to 31 June) for his incredible 15 foot-plus tube ride in Fiji during a session on 8 June that has been dubbed ‘The greatest day ever in big wave surfing’. The groundbreaking wave, caught at Cloudbreak reef off Tavarua island, earned him a total of R39 000 cash and a Yamaha VX1100 WaveRunner valued at R120 000.
It wasn’t an easy victory for the globally renowned 39-year-old big wave charger, who had put his life on the line tackling gigantic waves that were subsequently beaten by huge airs from younger pros throughout the event. His winning entry was submitted at the last minute after chasing a monumental swell to Fiji in the South Pacific.
“How lucky am I?” said an overwhelmed Baker when he was announced the winner last night at the Oakley One Wave Wonder awards function in Ballito. “It took 48 hours in total to get (to Fiji), and we got there at 10 o’clock at night before that swell. It took up my entire budget for the year and it was a big decision, but it obviously paid off and I got to experience something that will go down in the folklore of surfing history. I did that as a representative of South African surfing and that was my reward, that wave.”
“To win something like this and to be able to compete against guys that are half my age makes it such an amazing competition. This is an amazing event and I hope it grows from strength to strength.”
Talon Clemow, who documented the winning ride, won an all-expenses paid trip for two to Macaronis worth over R50 000 and made possible by All Aboard Surf Travel.
The event, run by Zigzag Surfing Magazine, breaks with the traditional surfing contest format and runs over a six-month long period during which any South African surfer can upload a video clip of their best ride onto the event website. The best ride every month is decided by a panel of expert judges, whose vote counts for 50%. The other 50% of the vote is decided by the public through an online vote. The monthly winner then becomes a finalist for the ultimate Ride of the Season.
“What makes the Oakley One Wave Wonder so unique is that Joe Soap can go up against Jordy Smith” said Zag editor, Will Bendix. “A two foot wave can compete with a 25 foot wave, and you get massive barrels competing with crazy airs. It’s basically anything deemed an outstanding single ride that pushes the performance levels of surfing, no matter what the waves are like. Whoever impresses the judges and the public the most wins. There’s no other surfing contest like it.”
WHAT THE JUDGES HAD TO SAY ABOUT THE WINNING RIDE:
Davey Weare: “My vote for best ride of the season goes to Twiggy for his June win from Cloudbreak. The shear size, power and intensity of the wave mixed with his commitment and courage makes for a winning combination and gets my nod for overall winner of the Oakley One Wave Wonder.”
Jarvi: “Twiggy gets my overall vote for the 2012 Oakley One Wave Wonder because that wave can’ be beaten in any category.”
Johnny Paarman: “That wave of Twiggy’s has everything going for it. Twiggy deserves it. He works hard at what he does, he goes on big missions, and when the situation arises he charges. He gets my vote. That whole session was somind-blowing. The waves were so big and so perfect and the guys were
paddling in. I even had a dream about it after I saw the video.”
Wok: “The size says it all. I’ve been battling to pick a winner to be honest, but Twiggy is clever ‘cos he knows what he has to do to separate himself from the rest – going to Fiji did just that. Due to the hype of the swell and the size and effort, my winner is Twig.”
Calvin Bradley: “Maybe I am getting caught up in all the hype surrounding that crazy session, but Twiggy’s ride at Cloudbreak has to be the single most exciting thing I’ve seen from a Saffa this year. The other finalists were mental, but Twiggy’s ride was always going to be one step ahead.”