As Grant “Twiggy” Baker exited stage right in front of a rowdy afternoon crowd after accepting a bronze statue of the Meistrell Brothers (founders of Body Glove) that nearly equals him in weight, TV reporters swarmed him asking for an evening news sound bite. He slyly dodged them and left the Body Glove Mavericks Invitational festival site through an emergency exit located behind the port-a-potties. We were alongside Twiggy as he escaped the madness and he was kind enough to give us a quick interview regarding his big win. Alongside him was his fiancé, Kate, and within earshot was runner-up Shane Dorian.
Congrats Twiggy. Today was intense. How were the conditions out there and how did they compare to years prior?
I think each year has its different nuances. The first time I won the Mavericks event in 2006 was really perfect, just the ultimate day. 2010 was obviously bigger, but was just kind of rolling in from out the back. This year had that south wind and super west swell direction and it was loading up on the bowl.
So the drop was way steeper this year than in the past?
It was so much gnarlier. I mean it was really, really heavy out there. To commit to a wave was a real mindfuck, really. You’d be up at the top of the wave looking down, saying “there’s no way you can make this wave.” All the trough and bump coming across plus the west was making it wedge up. It was really a challenging mental game today to go on a wave. I was actually commentating Mark Healey’s heat when he got worked and dragged inside. As he got on the water patrol ski, I could see his face and could tell he was rattled. To see someone like Healey, who’s as gnarly a dude as any, that shook up was really scary. Especially knowing you are about to be out in that same lineup.
How big of a board were you riding out there?
I was riding a 10’0″ in my earlier heats because the wind was offshore so there wasn’t much chop on the face. But once I saw that south wind picking up before the Final, I knew I needed a little bit smaller board for more control. I rode a 9’6″ in the Final that has a little more pulled in nose, which helps you manage the wind a little better.
Were your boards thrusters or quads?
Both were thrusters. I mainly ride thrusters because they give you so much more control. I’ve experimented with quads but they don’t really suit my style of surfing. Quads are definitely faster but when you’re riding waves that big, the wave gives you a lot of speed.
Since the takeoff spot in the bowl was so steep the control of the thruster must have helped.
Yeah, my thrusters definitely helped with the drop.
*Across the alleyway, we overhear Shane Dorian talking about tomorrow’s swell forecast for Mavericks as well as another big-wave spot.
What are your plans now? It sounds like the swell is sticking around. Are you?
I’ve been so focused on this event that I haven’t looked at the swell models for the rest of the week. I don’t really know what’s going on. Greg Long invited me to go to another big-wave spot but I told him before the event that if I won I wasn’t going to go. Kate goes back to South Africa on Monday so I might just head back home with her.