South African Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker placed fifth in the Quiksilver Ceremonial Big Wave Invitational which was won by Makuakai Rothman in huge 30 – 40 foot waves at Punta De Lobos in Peru on Saturday.
The 24-man field was given the green light for the event to run on Thursday but the predicted swell did not materialise until late in the day.
Baker, the 2013 World Big Wave Champion, was in the first heat of the day and won the six-man clash convincingly.
He recorded scores of 8.83 and 8.33 (both out of 10) on his two counting rides for a heat total of 25.99 points (out of 30) as the highest single score for each competitor is doubled in value.
Capetonian Frank Solomon, who had only arrived at the contest site at 4 am that morning after his surfboards were lost in transit, just failed to advance to the semis when he finished in fourth place behind Baker, local and defending event champion Marcos Monteiro (CHL) and Koa Rothman (HAW).
The swell filled in overnight and the semi-finalists were greeted by enormous walls of water peeling down the left-breaking point at first light on Saturday.
Baker again dominated his encounter, posting rides of 8.83 and 6.57 to finish five points ahead of eventual event runner-up Cristian Merello (CHL) and eight ahead of event winner Rothman.
In the second semi, local standout Ramon Navarro rode what was considered the biggest wave of the day, a massive 45 foot mountain of water that earned the Chilean a near perfect score of 9.70.
The final belonged to Rothman who rode a total of six waves including a pair of eight pointers.
Baker was only in position to ride two waves and finished behind Merello, Navarro and American Nic Lamb. Australian Mark Mathews was sixth.
Results of the Quiksilver Ceremonial Big Wave Invitational
1. Makuakai Rothman HAW 24.29
2. Cristian Merello CHL 23.17
3. Ramon Navarro CHL 22.31
4. Nic Lamb USA 20.74
5. Grant Baker ZAF 19.79
6. Mark Mathews AUS 17.97