SA's Grant 'Twiggy' Baker 5th at Billabong Pico Alto
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 6 July, 2014 - South Africa’s Grant ‘Twiggy’, the reigning ASP Big Wave World Tour (BWWT) champion, finished fifth as Hawaiian Makua Rothman claimed victory at the Billabong Pico Alto event in Peru, battling 40-foot seas and a field of 24 of the world’s best watermen in the first event of the 2014/2015 ASP BWWT season yesterday (Thursday)
Baker displayed the consistency that saw him reach the final in all the BWWT events last season, winning two of them, by again advancing through Round 1 and the semi-finals held in heaving 25 to 40 foot (8 to 13 metres) surf to reach the last six in the final at Peru’s renowned big wave venue of Pico Alto, 60 kms South of Lima.
Rothman’s “go-for-broke” approach throughout the contest paid off and the young Hawaiian showcased his commitment, strength and confidence as the surf grew in size during the day by netting the highest scores of the entire event in the final.
“I didn’t even know what was going on during that wave (his 9.40 out of a possible 10 in the final),” Rothman said. “I thought I was going over the falls, but I figured I’d just try and hang on. I’m just stoked to be here and stoked to win. This is my first event ever on the Big Wave World Tour and I can’t put into words what this means.”
The six-man final boasted a “who’s who” of the global big wave community with reigning world champion Grant “Twiggy” Baker (ZAF) leading Greg Long (USA), Gabriel Villaran (PER) Shawn Dollar (USA) and Anthony Tashnick (HAW) into the brink, but it was newcomer Rothman that came out on top, announcing himself as a major threat on the BWWT.
Baker was fortunate to get through his opening encounter when the heat was extended by 30 minutes after only one ride, by Baker, was recorded in the initial 45 minutes. A flurry of sets during the extension saw him overtaken by Rafael Velarde (PER) and Jamie Sterling (HAW) but the Saffa held onto third place
He also finished third in his semi-final, behind Rothman and Long, progressing to the final where he waited patiently and caught arguably the biggest wave of the entire event. However Baker could not find a second score and placed fifth overall.
“This was so great to have waves here in Peru,” Rothman said. “I went on the ‘QS for years and just struggled, but this is where I belong. I am so honoured to surf with Greg Long and Twiggy (Grant Baker) and Dollar (Shawn Dollar) and everyone who steps up and takes off on big waves. You are all the reason I’m here today.”
A new father, Rothman left straight from the hospital to hop on a plane and travel to Peru - a risk that would pay off in a career-changing win for the new family man as well as an ignited fervour in challenging for the big wave crown.
“I just want to say I love you to my daughter who was born two days ago,” Rothman said. “I wore her hospital bracelet the whole time and now I can’t take it off. I don’t even know what to say, I’m happy.”
Highlights from the Billabong Pico Alto are available via www.ASPWorldTour.com
Billabong Pico Alto Final Results:
1. Makua Rothman (HAW) 27.33
2. Anthony Tashnick (USA) 22.00
3. Shawn Dollar (USA) 20.26
4. Gabriel Villaran (PER) 16.80
5. Grant Baker (ZAF) 16.00
6. Greg Long (USA) 7.00