Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker in action during the final of the Pe’ahi Challenge at Jaws in Hawaii. The Durbanite finished third in the event and retained his No. 1 spot on the 2016/17 WSL Big Wave Tour rankings – Photo: WSL / Heff
– Maui Locals Dominate with Billy Kemper and Paige Alms Claiming Pe’ahi Challenge titles
– Alms Records Historic First Ever WSL Women’s BWT Champion
– Kemper Finds Perfection and Wins Back-to-Back Victories
– More at WorldSurfLeague.com
PE’AHI, Maui/Hawaii (Friday, November 11, 2016) – 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.
“I’ve trained so hard for the last eight weeks,” Kemper said. “I’m over the moon and I just surfed with a few of my heroes and pioneers of this sport – Greg (Long) and Twiggy (Baker). I didn’t know I was winning so I just went for it on that last wave. This is what I live for right here. I’ve put a lot of work and effort into this and thank you to everyone that’s ever supported me. Thanks again for putting on such a wonderful event.”
Pe’ahi local Paige Alms (HAW) has become the first ever WSL Women’s Big Wave Tour Champion after taking a commanding victory in the final of the Pe’ahi Challenge.
The world’s best female big wave surfers, including South Africa’s Tammy-Lee Smith (Salt Rock), made history as 12 individuals took to the water to compete in a WSL Big Wave Tour event for the first time ever and contest for the maiden women’s title in heavy conditions at the break aptly known as Jaws.
The final saw Alms, Justine Dupont (FRA) and Felicity Palmateer (AUS) take to the water for a 60 minute match-up. Keala Kennelly (HAW), Emily Erickson (HAW) and Laura Enever (AUS) had also qualified for the final after placing in the top three in their respective Round 1 heats, but were unable to compete after sustaining injuries in the powerful surf.
Dupont led the charge, opening her account with a 3.17 but Alms found an incredible wave and took off with perfect positioning to be rewarded with 6.00 and then added another impressive ride for a 7.83, one of the day’s top scores. Dupont tried to fight back but ended runner-up with Palmateer taking third place.
“What a blessing to be out there with just a couple of girls, that was very special,” said Alms. “The support feels so good and it’s so cool to have all my friends here and do this at home. This has been a dream to have an event for the women here. To have an empty lineup is a real blessing, win or lose. A few of the girls got hurt and I’m bummed that they weren’t out there with us but they’ll be back for more. I hope we get more opportunities so thank you WSL, this was really big.”
Smith, who received a late call up as a wildcard for the event and was surfing on Maui for the first time, caught one wave as the wind affected waves made her Round 1 heat extremely challenging. But it wasn’t enough to advance to the final and she was eliminated from the competition.
“That was definitely extremely challenging with so much wind,” said Alms after winning her Round 1 heat. “I surf here all the time and the wind today is very difficult. It throws huge chops at you and puts so much air under the nose of your board, so you really have to push hard.”
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
Pe’ahi Challenge Women’s Final Results:
1 – Paige Alms (HAW) 21.66
2 – Justine Dupont (FRA) 10.77
3 – Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 1.63
Pe’ahi Challenge Men’s Semifinal Results (top three finishers advance to Final):
SF 1: Greg Long (USA) 16.66, Billy Kemper (HAW) 13.97, Grant Baker (ZAF) 13.51, Cristian Merello (CHL) 13.26, Kai Lenny (HAW) 10.36, Josh Kerr (AUS) 8.97
SF 2: Nic Lamb (USA) 16.41, Pedro Calado (BRA) 12.67, Will Skudin (USA) 10.53, Aaron Gold (HAW) 10.14, Yuri Soledade (HAW) 6.73, Shaun Walsh (HAW) 1.74
Pe’ahi Challenge Women’s Round 1 Results (top three finishers advance to Final):
Heat 1: Keala Kennelly (HAW) 13.66, Justine Dupont (FRA) 7.59, Emily Erickson (HAW) 2.34, Polly Ralda (GTM) 2.00, Andrea Moller (BRA) 1.40, Silvia Nabuco (BRA) 0.00
Heat 2: Paige Alms (HAW) 12.34, Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 11.00, Laura Enever (AUS) 2.67, Bianca Valenti (USA) 2.29, Jamilah Star (USA) 1.46, Tammy-Lee Smith (ZAF) 1.06
Pe’ahi Challenge Men’s Round 1 Results (top three finishers advance to Semifinals):
Heat 1: Greg Long (USA) 11.66, Josh Kerr (AUS) 11.56, Cristian Merello (CHL) 11.33, Tyler Larronde (HAW) 9.33, Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 6.00, Gabriel Villaran (PER) 1.00
Heat 2: Billy Kemper (HAW) 18.20, Grant Baker (ZAF) 16.67, Kai Lenny (HAW) 11.60, Ian Walsh (HAW) 9.36, Carlos Burle (BRA) 8.03, Dege O’Connell (HAW) 7.07
Heat 3: Aaron Gold (HAW) 18.97, Yuri Soledade (HAW) 18.29, Will Skudin (USA) 15.77, Mark Healey (HAW) 12.56, Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 11.53, Albee Layer (HAW) 9.14
Heat 4: Nic Lamb (USA) 16.96, Shaun Walsh (HAW) 16.83, Pedro Calado (BRA) 14.66, Damien Hobgood (USA) 13.57, Shane Dorian (HAW) 12.27, Francisco Porcella (HAW) 9.73
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
NOTE: Complimentary high resolution images and broadcast quality video footage available on request for media outlets
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