Legendary South African big wave charger Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker powered his way through three heats of 10 metre plus surf to finish third in the Pe’ahi Challenge in Hawaii and retain his No. 1 spot on the 2016/17 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) rankings
Baker, the 2013 BWT champion and winner of the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico in June, stayed busy in the inconsistent rising swell in his Round 1 heat where he finished second to advance to the semi-finals.
There the Durbanite again caught the first ride of the 50 minute encounter, but had to wait until just four minutes from the end before finding a backup ride that saw him grab third place and a berth in the one hour final.
Maui local and defending Pe’ahi Challenge champion Billy Kemper (HAW) and Baker shared a wave to open up the final, with Baker getting the best of the exchange.
Reigning and two-time BWT Champion Greg Long (USA) followed quickly on the second wave of the set and posted an excellent 8.83, which he backed up on one of the bigger waves of the day with another excellent ride for 8.93.
Kemper pulled into a barrel at the halfway mark to earn the only perfect 10 point ride of the event, taking the lead from Long and pushing Baker into third place, despite an excellent 8-point ride from the South African for a late drop.
A final attempt from Nic Lamb (USA) moved him up into fourth place over Pedro Calado (BRA) and Will Skudin (USA) who finished in fifth and sixth places respectively.
Kemper held the lead through the remainder of the final and closed with a 9.07 for pulling into a deep pit which sealed his second consecutive win at Pe’ahi.
The result sees Kemper move up nine places to No. 4 on the BWT rankings while Baker retains the ratings lead with only two possible events remaining on the 2016/17 season.
Results, images and video footage of every ride in the Pe’ahi Challenge can be found at WorldSurfLeague.com and on the WSL app.
Pe’ahi Challenge Men’s Final Results:
1 – Billy Kemper (HAW) 29.07
2 – Greg Long (USA) 26.69
3 – Grant Baker (ZAF) 22.47
4 – Nic Lamb (USA) 18.89
5 – Pedro Calado (BRA) 18.04
6 – Will Skudin (USA) 14.41
WSL BWT Rankings Top Five (following Pe’ahi Challenge):
1 – Grant Baker (ZAF) – 21,180 points
2 – Greg Long (USA) – 20,832 points
3 – Pedro Calado (BRA) – 14,709 points
4 – Billy Kemper (HAW) – 13,589 points
5 – Will Skudin (USA) – 11,053 points