South African Grant “Twiggy Baker Wins 2006 Mavericks Surf Contest

It was an epic Tuesday in Half Moon Bay, CA, with clear blue skies, a gentle offshore breeze, 25-30 foot waves, and Grant Baker made the most of it, dominating the 2006 Mavericks Surf Contest. The South African was on fire all day, winning each of his heats, and catching some of the biggest and steepest waves of the day. Surfing a slightly shorter and thinner 9’0 board than his competitors, he carved some awesome turns that gave him two perfect “10’s during the event. In the end he beat out Santa Cruz local Tyler Smith in the final to win his first big contest ever. Grant received a check for 30,000 dollars.

“I never thought this was possible, Baker said from the podium, waving a South African flag in the air. “It’s an unbelievable dream.

Favorites Darryl “Flea Virostko and Anthony Tashnick were both knocked out in the first round, opening up the contest for a new champion. Baker, who had been training every day for the past month, surfing Mavericks whenever it broke, became the first non-local to win the event. “I want to thank Grant Washburn, Baker said, “for training me out here. And for letting me crash on his couch.

An estimated 50,000 people showed up for the event, which will be televised nationally on NBC on May 13. Organizer Jeff Clark, who pioneered Mavericks in the 70’s, said the 2006 Mavericks Surf Contest was the best ever. “We have a surf spot here that deserves world recognition.

Mavericks is known as one of the most difficult and dangerous waves in the world, and there were plenty of wipe outs to demonstrate this. Surfers were pitched twenty feet over the falls, swallowed my massive white washes, and at one point Evan Slater, after taking a spill, was held under by three monster waves and driven toward the rocks. Five Jet skis were quick to rescue him. Other than Mike Gerhardt, who tore his shoulder, there were no serious injuries.

During the final, Tyler Smith caught a huge set wave, made a powerful bottom turn and emerged from a twenty foot wall of spitting whitewater, but it was Baker’s deep take off inside the peak and slash across the bowl that scored him a second “10 for the day and sealed his victory.

The Final Results for the Contest:

1) Grant Baker
2) Tyler Smith
3) Brock Little
4) Matt Ambrose
5) Grant Washburn
6) Evan Slater