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Grant “Twig” Baker Wins Nazare Challenge in Giant Waves in Portugal!

November 16th, 2018 No comments

Grant ‘Twig’ Baker (Durban, centre) holds aloft the trophy for winning the Nazare Challenge in giant waves in Portugal today  Credit: WSL / Poullenot

8 to 13 Metre (25 to 40 foot) Waves Test the World’s Best Big Wave Surfers

South African Grant ‘Twig’ Baker today won the Nazare Challenge, the first event on the 2018 / 19 World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT), in huge 8 to 13 metre (25 to 40 foot) waves at Praia do Norte (North Beach), Nazare in Portugal.

Baker, the 2013 and 2016 WSL BWT world champion and at 45 the oldest competitor in the event, claimed the fifth BWT event title of his storied career and he now holds the early lead in this year’s BWT rankings.

“I’m really happy to win here at Nazare,” said Baker on exiting the water. “I have spent the last six weeks here with my family, Kate and Billi, surfing every day in one foot to 20 foot (0.5 to 6 metre) waves and it has certainly helped me know more about the break.

“I’d like to thank all my fellow competitors. We all love riding big waves and the vibe out there was incredible. Everyone was sharing waves, everybody knew whose turn it was, it was epic.”

The Durbanite squeaked through his Round 1 and Semi-final heats, placing third in each and in danger of being eliminated from the event if he had been overtaken as the time ran out in the 45 minute encounters.

Baker caught the first ride in the 60 minute final, earning a score of 5.33 out of 10, and he followed that up almost immediately with a 4.93. With two scores in his pocket he had the luxury of being able to position himself to wait for the biggest waves to arrive while the other five finalists needed to chase around the break trying to record their counting scores.

Despite replacing his 4.93 with 6.07, Baker was overtaken by hard-charging Portuguese local Naxto Gonzalez, who had posted the only perfect 10-point score of the event for a ride deep inside an enormous 10 metre tube in the semis, and defending event champion and eventual 2018 event runner-up Lucas ‘Chombo’ Chianca (BRA).

With 10 minutes remaining the horizon went black as a set of massive waves came thundering through ultra-deep underwater canyon that refracts the world’s biggest rideable waves into the surf zone at Nazare. Baker held his nerve and as the biggest wave of the day was about to break on his head he swung around, paddled in and dropped down the face.

Grant Baker drops into a big wave on his way to winning the Nazare Challenge in Portugal Photo: WSL / Poullenot

Holding his line as the wall of water estimated at 13 metres (40 foot) in height by the commentators towered over him, Baker guided himself around the tons of crushing white-water and onto the shoulder, raising his arms in exultation as he cut-out over the back of the wave.

The judges awarded Baker 8.67, the highest scoring ride of the final, and when he added a 7.70 in the dying minutes, the title was his.

“That wave was coming right to me and Lucas was on the shoulder so I had do some manoeuvring, but I had to go,” said Baker on the podium. “Out at Nazare you’re not too sure where it’s going to break so I had to wait, and wait, and wait. So when I eventually turned and went, it was pretty late and it was really steep, but I made it to the shoulder, and now I’m the champion!”

The Nazare Challenge was given a Silver coefficient by BWT Commissioner Mike Parsons based on the waves being in the 35 foot (12 metre) range which means that Baker earns 11,000 points on the rankings, 10% more than the10,000 points awarded to the winner of a Bronze coefficient event.

Nazare Challenge
Final Results
1. Grant ‘Twig’ Baker (ZAF, Durban)
2. Lucas ‘Chombo’ Chianca (BRA)
3. Natxo Gonzalez (Basque)
4. Alex Botelho (PRT)
5. Joao de Macedo (PRT)
6. Russell Bierke (AUS)

The 2018/2019 Big Wave Tour (BWT) hosts three events: the Nazaré Challenge, the Jaws Challenge, and the Mavericks Challenge. All holding periods for this season are now open and will await the biggest waves until the season’s close on March 31, 2019. For the Jaws Challenge and Mavericks Challenge, the world’s best male and female big wave surfers will prepare for conditions that will produce waves in the 30-to-60-foot range. Once the decision is made to run the event, a “Green Alert” is issued and competitors will have 48 hours’ notice to be ready to compete.

The WSL Big Wave Tour is proudly supported by Surfline, and Corona, with special thanks to Nazaré Challenge partners Jogos Santa Casa, Visit Portugal, Portuguese Waves, The City of Nazaré, MEO, Hertz, and Praia do Norte.

ENDS

About the WSL
The World Surf League (WSL) is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The organization, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, annually running more than 180 global events across the Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels, and in doing so crowns the undisputed Men’s and Women’s World Champions across all tours.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Kelly Slater, Stephanie Gilmore, Tyler Wright, John Florence, Lakey Peterson, Paige Alms, Kai Lenny, Taylor Jensen, Honolua Blomfield, Carissa Moore, Gabriel Medina, Courtney Conlogue and more battle on the most dynamic field of play of any global sport.

For more information, please visit WorldSurfLeague.com.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Compiled & Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

Grant Baker and Tammy-Lee Smith in Pe’ahi Challenge Big Wave Event in Hawaii Today

November 11th, 2016 No comments
Pictured: Reigning BWT champion Greg Long in action at the inaugural Pe’ahi Challenge in December 2015where he finished third behind Maui locals Billy Kemper and Albee Layer - Photo: WSL / Kirstin

Pictured: Reigning BWT champion Greg Long in action at the inaugural Pe’ahi Challenge in December 2015where he finished third behind Maui locals Billy Kemper and Albee Layer – Photo: WSL / Kirstin

– Baker leads the WSL BWT rankings heading into Jaws
– Smith a debutant in the first WSL Women’s BWT event
– More at Worldsurfleague.Com

Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker, the current rankings leader on the World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT), and Women’s BWT debutant Tammy-Lee Smith, both from KZN, will be flying the South African flag in the Pe’ahi Challenge in Hawaii, which has been given the green-light to run later today.

The call on when to get the first event in the Northern Hemisphere leg of the 2016 / 2017 BWT season underway will be made at 7pm South African time. Organisers are expected a powerful 5-7 metre (15-20 foot) swell with wave faces between 10 and 15 metres for the field of 24 men and 12 women the first ever Women’s BWT event.

Baker missed the inaugural Pe’ahi Challenge in December last year, which has been called the best big wave event in history, due to an injured back and is looking forward to competing at the revered break colloquially known as ‘Jaws’ which produces some of the biggest rideable waves on the planet.

“It’s going to be a great contest in the 15-20ft range with the swell out of the North and clean conditions which should make it a high performance big wave event with late drops, deep barrels and swooping turns,” said Baker on his arrival in Hawaii on Thursday after testing his equipment in the giant waves at Mavericks in California earlier in the week.

Although he won the Puerto Escondido Challenge in Mexico in June, the only event on the Southern Hemisphere leg of the BWT season that has produced the wave size and conditions that matched the tour’s criteria so far this year, the proud South African is modest about his chances at Jaws

“I am the current ratings leader but the field for Jaws is strong and to win in Hawaii is difficult, so I’m just here to enjoy myself, get some waves and do my best for South Africa,” Baker explained.

The decision to include a women’s event at either the Pe’ahi or Todos Santos events this year resulted in Tammy-Lee Smith from Salt Rock being included on the alternate invitee list. However, the nature of how the calls are made for big wave events, where competitors are notified just 96 hours before the event start, led to a slew of withdrawals among the invitees and Smith has now been included in the field of 12 women as a wildcard.

Smith is an experienced five year veteran of the WSL Women’s Qualifying Series campaigner who has previously reached the final of the women’s event at Pipeline in Hawaii. Having always enjoyed surfing in waves of consequence, she already has the right equipment for Jaws and had been in training for a trip to Hawaii in December after testing her skills in the massive waves at Sunset Reef in Cape Town. The call-up for the Pe’ahi challenge has seen Smith drop everything and fly halfway around the world, arriving in Hawaii yesterday.

She is relishing the challenge of taking on Jaws and coming up against the world’s foremost female big wave riders, including the top seed Keala Kennelly (HAW), who became the first woman to win the open-gender the Pure Scot Barrel of the Year award at the WSL Big Wave Awards in April,

“My goal for Hawaii is just to get some solid waves,” said Smith. “The other girls have all been working at this a lot longer than me, so I feel grateful just to be a wildcard and work my way up. Being on the actual invitees list is my goal.”

All the action from the Pe’ahi Challenge will be webcast LIVE on WorldSurfLeague.Com starting at 7pm South African time tonight.

Pe’ahi Challenge Men’s Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Greg Long (USA), Josh Kerr (AUS), Cristian Merello (CHL), Jamie Mitchell (AUS), Gabriel Villaran (PER), Tyler Larronde (HAW)
Heat 2: Billy Kemper (HAW), Carlos Burle (BRA), Grant Baker (ZAF), Kai Lenny (HAW), Ian Walsh (HAW), Dege O’Connell (HAW)
Heat 3: Makuakai Rothman (HAW), Albee Layer (HAW), Mark Healey (HAW), Aaron Gold (HAW), Will Skudin (USA), Yuri Soledade (HAW)
Heat 4: Nic Lamb (USA), Damien Hobgood (USA), Shane Dorian (HAW), Pedro Calado (BRA), Shaun Walsh (HAW), Francisco Porcella (HAW)

Pe’ahi Challenge Women’s Round 1 Match-Ups:
Heat 1: Keala Kennelly (HAW), Andrea Moller (BRA), Emily Erickson (HAW), Justine Dupont (FRA), Silvia Nabuco (BRA), Polly Ralda (GTM)
Heat 2: Paige Alms (HAW), Bianca Valenti (USA), Jamilah Star (USA), Laura Enever (AUS), Felicity Palmateer (AUS), Tammy-Lee Smith (ZAF)

ENDS

NOTE: Complimentary high resolution images and broadcast quality video footage available on request for media outlets
About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 021 534 5738
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

#labcomm

KwaDukuza Welcomes International Festival of Surfing to Ballito in June

April 14th, 2016 No comments
Alejo Muniz (BRA) throws a sheet of spray on his way to victory in the 2015 Ballito Pro  Photo: WSL / Ballito Pro / Cestari

Alejo Muniz (BRA) throws a sheet of spray on his way to victory in the 2015 Ballito Pro  Photo: WSL / Ballito Pro / Cestari

The World Surf League’s elite performers will be joined by the cream of the country’s men, women and juniors at Ballito on the KwaDukuza coast of KwaZulu-Natal in June for a festival of unsurpassed surfing excellence.

For an eighth successive year the region will host the top international and South African men who will be competing in the Ballito Pro presented by Billabong, a WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 10,000 rated event with a prize-pool of R4 million. The women will again demonstrate their skills in the QS1,000, R50 000, Ballito Women’s Pro presented by Billabong while the Billabong Junior Series includes events for men and women aged 18 and under at Ballito for the first time.

“KwaDukuza Municipality is privileged to continue our private-public partnership for growth by bringing the Ballito Pro, the country’s most popular professional surfing event, to our region, province, country and continent,” says the Mayor of KwaDukuza, Cllr Ricardo Mthembu. “During a declining world economy, the Ballito Pro drives tourism growth, creates local business opportunities and much needed job opportunities.”

“We thank our partners World Surfing League and Billabong, along with the contribution made by local businesses, our community, staff and emergency services. This year’s event coincides with the 40th celebration of June 16 and provides a platform for the youth of the world to showcase their talent and highlight global integration through sport. KwaDukuza is ready to host all our visitors and provide the surfers, from the Junior Series to the world’s best professionals, with an unforgettable experience that will encourage you to become brand ambassadors for Ballito and South Africa in general.”

Continuing its storied 47 year legacy as the world’s longest running professional surfing event, the Ballito Pro will be bigger and better in all aspects in 2016 as it again welcomes the support of global apparel and equipment giant Billabong, which has added its acclaimed and long running junior series to the mix this year.

“Billabong is once again really proud to be the presenting sponsor of the 2016 Ballito Pro,” said Billabong SA Group Marketing Manager, Chad D’Arcy. “Last year’s event was a phenomenal success and we are looking to build on what we achieved in 2015. Working with KwaDukuza was such a pleasure and we can’t wait to be back in Ballito again. We will be adding a junior surfing event as part of our annual Billabong Junior Series, which will bring another exciting element into the schedule.”

The 2015 Ballito Pro field included 17 of the world’s top 34 ranked surfers and was won by Alejo Muniz whose haul of 10 000 points contributed significantly to the Brazilian’s qualification for the prestigious 2016 WSL Championship Tour (CT). This year’s expanded 112-man field provides the local WSL Africa registered surfers with invaluable experience competing against the world’s best, along with opportunities to earn prize-money and coveted rankings points while competing in their home surf.

Points received in the Ballito Women’s Pro count towards the annual WSL Africa titles and ensures that the country’s top female competitors qualify for preferential seeding into international events. And competitors aged 18-and-under in the Billabong Junior Series will be striving for the prestigious event titles and selection for the WSL Africa squad that is invited to the annual WSL Junior Championships.

“It’s fantastic for South African surfing, KwaDukuza, Ballito and the WSL that we are able to host the continent’s highest level QS rated event at this superb venue for the eighth year in a row,” says WSL Africa Operations Manager, Colin Fitch. “We look forward to seeing 112 of the world’s best surfers produce another spectacular display of high performance surfing in Ballito. The opportunity for our top pro juniors to rub shoulders and compete with these top performers will help to raise the standard of surfing in South Africa. Thanks again to KwaDukuza, Billabong and Ballito.”

The Ballito Pro and Ballito Women’s Pro events will run in conjunction between Monday 27 June and Sunday 3 July. They are preceded by the Surfing South Africa Trials on Sunday 26 June with the four-day Billabong Junior Series running from Wednesday to Saturday, 22 – 25 June.

While the surfers ride the waves, the Ballito Pro Festival is set to turn up the heat in KwaDukuza by offering the best in beach, music and extreme sports entertainment. Locals and holiday-makers will be spoilt for choice with the week-long festival featuring an extreme sports programme, the Coastal Living Bru Food & Wine Festival and an exciting retail area while the Ballito Pro Music Concerts Powered by 5FM bring some of South Africa’s most talented music acts to the stage in Salt Rock.

The Ballito Pro presented by Billabong is proudly supported by the KwaDukuza Municipality, Billabong, 5FM, Monster Energy, Zigzag Surfing Magazine, World Surf League (WSL) and Surfing South Africa (SSA).

ENDS

NB: High resolution images are available on demand for media outlets

About the World Surf League
The World Surf League (WSL), formerly the Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP), is dedicated to celebrating the world’s best surfing on the world’s best waves through a variety of best-in-class audience platforms. The League, headquartered in Santa Monica, is a truly global sport with regional offices in Australasia, Africa, North America, South America, Hawaii, Japan and Europe.

The WSL has been championing the world’s best surfing since 1976, running global events across the Samsung Galaxy Men’s and Women’s Championship Tours, the Big Wave Tour, Qualifying Series, Junior and Longboard Championships, as well as the WSL Big Wave Awards. The League possesses a deep appreciation for the sport’s rich heritage while promoting progression, innovation and performance at the highest levels.

Showcasing the world’s best surfing on its digital platform at WorldSurfLeague.com as well as the free WSL app, the WSL has a passionate global fan base with millions tuning in to see world-class athletes like Mick Fanning, John John Florence, Stephanie Gilmore, Greg Long, Gabriel Medina, Carissa Moore, Makua Rothman, Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza and more battle on the most unpredictable and dynamic field of play of any sport in the world.

Surfing South Africa
The Ballito Pro, Ballito Women’s Pro, SSA Trials and Billabong Junior Series are registered with Surfing South Africa, recognised by the Dept. of Sport and Recreation as the national controlling body for the sport and a member of the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC).

Issued on behalf of:

WSL Africa
Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
Tel: 082 699 4493
Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

Compiled & Distributed by:

Life’s a Beach Communications
Tel: +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email: lifesabeach@mweb.co.za

KwaDukuza Municipality and Organizers of the Ballito Pro Festival
Contact: Collette Bundy
Mobile: 072 287 9839
Email: collettebundy0@gmail.com

For more information about the beach festival, music concerts and Food & Wine festival please contact:

Olivia Jones Communications
Cell: 083 653 1720
Work: 031 303 9341
Email: media@oliviajones.co.za

 

#labcomm

Pro-X Extreme Games set to rock Cape Town this weekend

March 4th, 2010 No comments

Pro-X Banner 

Cape Town will be rocked by the Pro-X Extreme Games this weekend as dozens of the country’s most extreme athletes go ballistic in custom built arenas alongside a red-hot line-up of live acts and DJ’s blasting the airwaves at Zone 7, just North of the city.

Featuring the top local and several international exponents of FMX, BMX, Skateboarding (Halfpipe & Street), Wakeboarding, Supercross and MTB Trials, the mega-event runs the qualification rounds on Saturday with the finals and awards presentation on Sunday.

Amongst many others, the likes of “Sick Nick” De Wit will be throwing his weight around on the FMX track; Anthony Raynard and Wyatt Avis will be tearing up the Supercross; Devon Nassif and Nick Burton-Moore in the Wakepool; and from foreign shores, Kyle Forte and John Skvarla from the USA.  

The action in the arenas will be non-stop between 10am and 6pm on Saturday, with a lunchtime break for give-aways from the host of sponsors and the Loaded Model Search, before the entertainment gets underway.

Showcasing the talents of The Little Kings, Hog Higgidy Hog, Van Coke Kartel, Haezer, Grave Danger, Lapse, Ashtray Electric, Blush & Bass, Trailerpark Celebrities and more, Pro-X Live will continue until at least 2am!

The gates re-open at 10am on Sunday and after the usual lunchtime activities, the best of the best will proceed to blow minds as they take to their respective arenas and vie for the 2010 Pro-X titles, prestige and cash in the finals.

The awards ceremony is set for 7.30pm, with more give-aways and general tomfoolery, before another bout of musical treats as the whole celebration ends with a BANG!

Tickets are available from Vida e Caffes or online at Webtickets and options range from R200 for the full weekend including the Pro-X Live entertainment, R150 for the Sunday or R450 for VIP status that enables you to spend time with the riders. There are student, children, family and group discounts available.

The venue is Zone 7, just North of Blouberg on the road to Malmesbury (N7) near the West Coast Show Ranch (see map below) and the organisers have arranged camping facilities at nearby Zonnekus Holiday Resort for those amped to stay for the entire weekend.

The Pro-X Extreme Games is brought to you by Recked Industries with the entertainment provided by Complete Events.

Further information on the event of the summer can be found at www.pro-x.co.za or the Facebook group Pro-X Summer Series.

Ends

Pro-X Extreme Map

Compiled & Distributed by:

 Life’s a Beach Communications

PO Box 48272, Kommetjie 7976, South Africa
Tel:              +27 (0) 21 783 4965
Fax:             +27 (0) 86 684 6250
Mobile:         +27 (0) 82 423 1964
Email:           lifesabeach@mweb.co.za