Sat, 24 April 2010

Anaheim, California: Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker became the first South African to win Ride of the Year, the premier category in the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards.

At a glittering function attended by 2,250 people here last night, Baker, 36, pocketed US $50,000 (about R375,000) for the giant wave he paddled into during the Mavericks Surf Contest at Half Moon Bay in California on 13 February 2010.

With his Bafana Bafana scarf proudly draped around his neck, a jubilant Twiggy said: “This is for my country, South Africa! We have the FIFA World Cup later this year and we’re a proud nation.”

Considering his initial confession that he did not have a speech prepared (he did not expect to win) he did very well, having thanked the El Nino weather conditions for producing the most amazing year of big waves around the planet and his fellow nominees for their incredible performances.

“I’d like to thank all my sponsors, particularly Billabong and my aunt Cheron (Kraak) back in Jeffreys Bay. Thanks to all the guys back at Dungeons (in Cape Town) and everyone here tonight. Drinks are on me!” Baker added as he celebrated on stage with the giant cheque.

Greg Long, winner of the Eddie earlier this year and Twiggy's good friend, presented him with the cheque.

The creme del la creme of the surfing subculture filled the Grove Theatre, and were treated by mind-blowing rides from around the world.

Sal Masikela - son of famous, formerly exiled South African muso Hugh Masikela - played MC , and drew cheers from the SA contingent with his cheesy rendition of a South African accent, with emphasis on how poverty-stricken South African surfers are. Ironically, Sal sounded like an American hamming up a South African accent - plenty of tinny sounding 'brus'.

Apparently more than 1,000 images and videos were submitted for judging in a huge (El Nino) year for big wave riding. Might as well go out with a bang, not a whimper, eh? The awards are judged by a panel of 400 surfers, surf media and big wave crew.

In a first for Germany, Sebastian Steudtner (Nuremberg) won the Biggest Wave Award for his monstrous wave at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii.

"It feels good; it's what I live for," said Steudtner. "I moved to Hawaii when I was 16; a Hawaiian family took me in and taught me how to surf. I am honored to win this thing."

Shawn Dollar rode a record paddle in wave measured as 55ft+ to win the Monster Paddle Award.

Billabong XXL Ride of the Year Results

1. Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker (Durban, South Africa)
2. Ramon Navarro (Pichilemu, Chile)
3. Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii, USA)
4. Raimana Van Bastolaer (Tahiti, French Polynesia) 
5. Mark Healey & Shane Dorian (Sunset Beach & Kona, Hawaii, USA)


(Surfer prize $15,000 and a Honda Aquatrax watercraft with HSA sled - Photo/video prize $4,000)
Sebastian Steudtner (Germany) at Jaws, Maui on December 7th 2009. (Photo by Batel Shimi)

WINNER MONSTER PADDLE AWARD (Surfer prize $15,000 - Photo/video prize $4,000)

Shawn Dollar (Santa Cruz, California, USA) at Mavericks, California on
February 13th, 2010 (Photos by Fred Pompermayer)

WINNER MONSTER TUBE PHOTO AWARD NOMINEES (Surfer prize $5,000 - Photography prize $2,000)

Raimana Van Bastolaer (Tahiti, French Polynesia) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on March 17th, 2010. (Photo by Ben Thouard)


Shane Dorian (Kona, Kauai, Hawaii)


Maya Gabeira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

VERIZON WIRELESS WIPEOUT (Surfer prize $5,000)

Brook Phillips Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania, Australia on October 19th 2009.

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