Baker, Grant "Twiggy"


Shaggy-haired big-wave surfer from South Africa; winner of the 2006 and 2014 Maverick's Surf Contest and the 2008 Red Bull Big Wave Africa; 2014 Big Wave World Tour Champion; regular on the Billabong XXL Awards podium throughout the 2000s. Baker was born (1973) in Durban, started surfing at age 13, and by the late 1990s the slight (5'11", 154 pounds) regularfooter was quietly challenging heavy water breaks all over South Africa.

Baker jumped onto the international scene in 2003 after making the finals in the first big-wave contest he entered, the Red Bull Big Wave Africa at Dungeons. For the rest of the decade he steadily expanded his big-wave repertoire while tow-surfing and paddling into the most hairball waves he could find, all while maintaining a day job as a Billabong sales rep.

Baker was a last-minute invitee to the 2006 Maverick's event, where he thoroughly dominated a talented field in 25-30 foot surf, notching several perfect-10 point rides on his way to victory and a $30,000 prize. In 2008 he took the Red Bull Big Wave Africa title in wind-whipped 20-footers. By 2014, the year of Baker's second win at Maverick's, now a stop on the Big Wave World Tour, he was a clear favorite heading into the event; he had by that time began spending winters in San Francisco, surfing Maverick's regularly. He won the contest easily, posting two perfect-ten rides on the day.

He had also picked up the win at the Punta Galea Challenge, on the Basque Coast, one month earlier, also part of the Big Wave World Tour. With those two victories under his belt, Baker easily captured enough points to win the 2014 Big Wave World Tour championship.

Baker had a brief role as the token pothead "Hemp" in 2011's straight-to-video Blue Crush 2; the role was not likely a stretch. When asked by Surfer magazine how he stays relaxed in big wave lineups Baker replied, "I like to use some 'special stuff' to calm the nerves."

A perennial nominee at the Billabong XXL Awards, Baker claimed the 2007 Biggest Wave award; the 2009 awards for Biggest Wave and Overall Performance; and the 2010 Ride of the Year award. When Baker wasn't winning, his big-wave partner Greg Long often was.

Baker joined the pro kitesurfing tour in 2012. Also that year, Kate Lovemore, Baker's longtime girlfriend, was Playboy South Africa's March Playmate.