Home > Big waves, Contests, Extreme, Girls Surfing, WSL > Grant Baker and Tammy-Lee Smith in Pe’ahi Challenge Big Wave Event in Hawaii Today

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

November 11th, 2016
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)


NOTE: Complimentary high resolution images and broadcast quality video footage available on request for media outlets
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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.

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Contact: Colin Fitch – Operations Manager
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Email: cfitch@worldsurfleague.com

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