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Surfer Grant 'Twiggy' Baker slays a monster at Dungeons

August 19, 2009 | 11:23 am

Grant 'Twiggy' Baker prepares for a speed-run down the face of a towering breaker at Dungeons off Cape Town, South Africa.

Dungeons off South Africa has sharks -- lots of them.

The offshore break also boasts lumpy, windy conditions much of the time, making it all the more spooky.

But on Sunday, as a mammoth swell delivered monstrous peaks over the Dungeons reef, the breeze was offshore and conditions were clean as could be -- perhaps even the sharks had fled for the day -- and some of the world's elite big-wave surfers were in absolute heaven.

"Obviously this was a historic day for us at Dungeons, not just the size of the waves but also how clean it was and that it lasted an entire day," said Grant "Twiggy" Baker, who is South Africa's premier big-wave charger. "This is very unusual and the fact that we got to surf it for 10 hours straight meant we became very comfortable out there and managed to push ourselves that little further.”

What's notable is that conditions were clean enough for surfers to paddle onto the fast-moving shoulders of the waves, rather than tow onto them behind personal watercraft. That's a far heavier proposition when the waves get as big as they are in the accompanying photo.

By the way, that's Baker in the photo, and there's a strong chance that ride -- or another on the same day -- will earn him the prestigious Monster Paddle Award in the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards, a yearlong contest boasting several categories, which ends in the spring.

However, there's plenty of surfing left, and possibly an El Niño-fueled winter in store for Hawaii and along the West Coast of the U.S. and Mexico. Stay tuned ...

-- Pete Thomas

Photo: Grant "Twiggy" Baker prepares for a speed-run down the face of a towering breaker at  Dungeons off Cape Town, South Africa. Credit: Kimi Stewar/Billabong XXL

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