Tue, 28 February 2017
Perhaps he will concede that it's not the most dramatic way to win a world title, but the end of the Todos Santos window period (not the Eddie) makes Grant Twiggy Baker world big wave champion.
Twiggy, who wins the 2016/17 edition of the Big Wave Tour, becomes only the second persion, with Greg Long, to have won it twice. Twiggy won the first event - the Puerto Escondido Challenge - in spectacular fashion in June, sealing it with a 10 point tube ride.
He followed up on that with a 3rd in cranking 40ft Pe'ahi in Hawaii in November before reaching the semis in giant, knuckle-fisted Nazare in Portugal in December.
Contrast those insanely dangerous times to the quiet end of the Big Wave Tour season when the Todos Santas Challenge window period officially closed. Interestingly, it also meant the fizzling of the three-month holding period for the 2016/17 Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, which ends today. Late last year, we got the crazy 40 foot surf that the “The Eddie” would have wished for, but the infamous Hawaiian big wave spot did not deliver this winter.
However, the Eddie has only run nine times in 32 years, which means statistically, it is more likely not to run.
The event is famous for its traditional Hawaiian opening ceremony, live broadcast and atmosphere of brotherhood and brouhaha. North Shorian John John Florence (HAW) remains the event’s defending champion after last claiming it (February 2016). John John then casually went on to achieve perhaps the greatest surfing year in Hawaii history after taking the WSL World Championship and Vans Triple Crown title, among other awards.
Beginning in 1985, the Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational has been an invite-only big-wave event that takes place at Waimea Bay on the North Shore of Oahu, where the late Eddie Aikau served as the North Shore’s first lifeguard. The waterman became a legendary figure in Hawaii after an ill-fated attempt to save fellow crew members onboard the Hōkūle'a in 1978, and continues to inspire generations with his symbolism of bravery, camaraderie and aloha spirit.
Other victors include Eddie’s brother, Clyde Aikau (HAW) in 1986, 11x World Champion Kelly Slater (USA) in 2002, Kauai’s Bruce Irons in 2004 and big wave pioneer Greg Long (USA) in 2009. This past season saw the first female alternate included in the esteemed list, Keala Kennelly (HAW), who is a recognized big wave surfer and decorated professional athlete.
For now, Oahu’s big wave season quiets down as the swells shift to the southern coastlines and the attention turns to the first stop on the WSL Championship Tour, the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast in Australia from March 14 - 25. Tune in live on www.worldsurfleague.com.
1- Grant Twiggy Baker (ZAF) 25,018 pts
2- Pedro Calado (BRA) 21,943
3- Greg Long (USA) 21,921
4- Carlos Burle (BRA) 18,175
5- Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 15,690