The WSL Big Wave Tour guys are a different breed, and Grant “Twiggy” Baker — now, a three-time BWT World Champ — is a tall poppy in that select crew of surfers.
Creating the amazing images and videos in the monstrous waves he surfs, with the genuine possibility of being seriously injured, takes a unique type of person to train and prepare for mentally.
Blood on the Lungs
Imagine getting hit so hard by a 50-foot wave such that you got “blood on the lungs”.
Twiggy says “Most of us, the big-wave guys, have experienced it. The impact of the wipeout causes some blood vessels in your lungs to burst, and they fill up with blood. You cough and splutter up blood for a few minutes, then it slowly goes away and you have what feels like ‘heavy’ lungs for a few days afterwards. I don’t think it’s very serious, as I’ve had it a couple times and feel fine after a week or so, with no side effects.”
The day he wiped out was on the first day of the Jaws event and he got “blood on the lungs”. As a result, he wanted to back out and finish his heat. The guys on the medical boat weren’t as convinced, however, and didn’t want to let him go back out into the ocean. After a bit of a tug of war for his surfboard, Twiggy won and eventually jumped back in the water and paddled back out.
A Man Named Twiggy
“My father was very beach oriented. He was never a surfer but loved bodysurfing and was a very keen fisherman. So I’d just tag along with him while he was fishing and I would surf and we would spend a lot of time in places like Mapelane Southern Mozambique, Transkei and in the deep South Coast and North Coast. So, that’s where I got my love for surfing alone, in solitude, while he fished.
He didn’t tell me about the sharks until I was older. I mean, he used to send me out to Mapelane to surf by myself, while he fished for sharks on the beach.
I always loved big waves. I loved it when Durban got big. From there, I took that act to the coast and then down to J-Bay where I met the Cape Town guys, like Davy Stolk and Mickey Duffus, in particular. And they were like, ‘Boy, if you like it when J-Bay gets big, come surf Cape Town!’ So I did. And then the whole Red Bull Big Wave Africa thing started, and I met Greg Long and Grant Washburn and they were like, ‘well, if you like Dungeons, you’re gonna love Mavericks and Waimea.’ I eventually made it to Mavericks, and the rest is history.
Winning Mavericks was a turning point. That took me from being a desk worker to a pro surfer.
I was a rep, selling t-shirts. I’ve done every job in the surf industry. I started at the CMT factory.I did marketing, so I worked as a sales manager for a while. Eventually, I was like; well; I want to surf a bit more and work less. And the repping job was awesome for that.
You had your own time.
And we grew Billabong into the biggest clothing brand in South Africa. It was an awesome time. Working is fun when you’re making money.
Most people are athletes and then they move into the company when their pro career is over. I did the opposite, which I think was very helpful, because it made me very grateful to be a professional surfer and I already had that hard work sense embedded in me — ‘if you don’t work hard enough, people are not gonna pay you’.
It’s hard to be a professional surf athlete, but it’s also not hard. It’s the same as anything in life. If you work hard at it, it’s attainable. But it’s not just surfing every day, it’s working hard on the whole big picture, mentally, and strategically.”
To be the best takes big risks
In 2008, Twiggy had a big wipeout at Dungeons when he knocked himself unconscious and had no memory for a few days!
But this is surfing, taking risks, overcoming your fears and chasing the next wave…
As Twiggy says, “ I love surfing and my favorite part about surfing is when the waves get challenging”
- Twig’s competitive career began in 2003, when he placed third in a paddle comp at 18–20ft Dungeons in the Big Wave Africa event.
- In 2006, he was voted into the Mavericks event by online poll and managed to win the event, becoming the Mavericks Surf Contest Champion (20ft waves)
- Winner of the XXL Biggest wave award (65ft Tafelberg)
- An invite to The Eddie in 2009
- Winner of XXL ride of the year 2010
- Big Wave World Champion of 2014
- WSL Big Wave World Champion of 2016
- Nazare Challenge winner of 2018
- WSL World Champion for a third time in 2019
Riding Big Waves is all About Balance
Twiggy says “I’m seriously proud of winning three world titles in six years, all in my forties” and that’s probably something that is abnormal in a sport like surfing, which is usually dominated by youngsters. But I’ve worked hard on my mental and physical conditions and feel like I’m surfing better than ever. Therefore, it’s a reward for all the hard work. It’s tough being on the road and away from home for six months, and it seems to get a little harder each year, especially now with my little girl being three years old.
Kate and Billi were with me for four of the six months, but even a few weeks away from them at this stage of my daughter’s life is hard. You don’t want to miss a single day. But they have been amazing — supporting my dream and stepping out of their comfort zone to be with me and sacrifice a “normal” life. None of this would be possible without their support.
Twiggy and Oshen.io
In the world of big-wave surfing, a top surfer is disciplined, works hard towards their goals and stays focused.
To be a 3 x Big Wave World Champion is something extra special.
Competing on the world surf, the tour is set up to be dominated by Northern Hemisphere surfers where you can spend the winter at home, surrounded by your support group and surfing the events at your local spots.
Compared to someone from the Southern Hemisphere, the personal sacrifices are almost insurmountable, and the amount of time, effort and money it takes is overwhelming at times.
The NFTs created by Twiggy are absolutely unique, and already hugely valuable in the existing digital media market, because of the incredible accomplishment to achieve this level of excellence.
We in Oshen.io. are very happy to collaborate with Twiggy Baker and we wish him continued success on the most dangerous waves on the planet!
Stay tuned for our exclusive, premium NFT collection, showcasing Twiggy as he rides the world’s biggest waves.