Grant Baker is the 2008 Red Bull Big Wave Africa champion
In firing 15 to 20-foot surf Twiggy caught two excellent waves to emerge victorious in a truly international final. Two South Africans, two Americans, a Brazilian and a Hawaiian surfer made up the final heat, with the South African taking the win. "The best day of bigwave surfing in South Africa to date!" said web-caster Gigs Cilliers as the event drew to a close.
There was excitement and high action from the first rounds, as massive waves heaved over the Dungeons Reef. First drama of the day involved Durban surfer Jason Ribbink in heat one. Jason paddled and caught an excellent-looking wave and was looking good on it until something went wrong and he ended up going over the falls backwards for a massive wipeout. The resultant concussion saw him out of the event under medical advice, even though he made it through the heat.
Heat four saw former event champion Greg Long catching what web cast commentator Richie Sills called "Undoubtedly one of the best waves to be ridden at Dungeons." The set wave saw Greg make a massive drop, set up for a thick inside bowl and get fully barreled through two massive sections for a perfect and absolutely deserved 10-point ride.
The first semi saw Grant Baker from Durban open up with a great wave that ran through the inside section for an excellent opening ride of 8.3 which he followed up with a 7.5 soon afterwards to get a commanding lead. He finished off with a 9-point ride to win the heat comfortably.
In the second semi young Hawaiian Mark Healey paddled into a set wave, made the drop and calmly stalled before grabbing his rail and pulling into a massive tube ride on his backhand. He suffered a big slam on the wave, but the judges rewarded his attempt with 7 points. His second wave was a disastrous wipe, but he had done enough to advance to the final.
It was a solid final with some gusting winds, with the Hawaiian Mark Healey going down hard at the beginning of the heat. A super-late take off on a set wave and subsequent wipeout resulted in a burst eardrum for Healey, and found him back on the boat to watch the rest of the final. Then it was Greg Long who scored an excellent 9.5 opening wave, followed up soon after by the Brazilian Carlos Burle. Baker then kicked in and scored two great waves in quick succession with an 8.2 and a 9.0 to have the highest combined score and the victory.
"I don't know if you guys watching know how big the waves were out there," said Twiggy on the podium, clutching his first place trophy. "but when they came they were so good. Like John said a few years ago, I was just the fortunate guy who got the waves."
1. Grant Baker (ZA)
2. Carlos Burle (BRZ)
3. Greg Long (USA)
4. James Taylor (ZA)
5. Anthony Tashnick (USA)
6. Mark Healey (HI)
Sensi Threads Biggest Wave Award - James Taylor
Billabong Biggest Tube Award - Greg Long
Von Zipper Deep Throat Award - Carlos Burle