Men who surf Mountains

Grant Baker won the Biggest Paddle Wave award for paddling into a seriously big wave at Dungeons off Cape Town . The award is sponsored by O’ Neill and is aptly titled “Raw Courage”

Grant "Twiggy" Baker catches the wave that earned him R 20 000. Photo: Kimi Stewart

South Africa is on the fore front of big wave surfing with many of our surfers gaining experience in the cold shark infested waters off Cape Town.

The reputation and respect South African big wave surfers have earned internationally goes back to the early 1970’s when Gavin Rudolph and Johnny Paarman stunned the Hawaiian locals with their exploits as Sunset Beach.

Rudolph (then 18 yrs old) was an unknown when he won the 1971 Smirnoff Contest beating legendary Hawaiian surfers Bill Hamilton, Eddie Aikau and Jeff Hakman in the final.

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(Above: Grant Baker at Mavericks. South Africans are building on the reputations earned by Gavin Rudolph and Johnny Paarman in the 1970’s)

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This win was also the first ever by a South African in a professional event outside of South Africa.

Gavin surfed Jeffreys Bay from the late 1960’s together with respected J’Bay shaper Larry Levin and became known for his big carves which would literally send chunks of water flying through the air.

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(Above: Chris Bertish cemented South Africa’s reputation as chargers in big waves by winning the 2010 Mavericks Surf Event at Half Moon Bay in California)

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