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Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker Ready for Nazaré Big Wave Challenge Starting Tuesday in Portugal

December 19th, 2016
WSL XXL contender Garrett McNamara in action at Nazare in 2015  Image: Bruno Aleixo

WSL XXL contender Garrett McNamara in action at Nazare in 2015 Image: Bruno Aleixo

– South African Mentally & Physically Prepared to Defend BWT Rankings Lead
– More at WorldSurfLeague.com

South African big wave charger Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker is mentally and physically prepared for the Nazaré Challenge, Stop No. 3 on the 2016/2017 WSL Big Wave Tour (BWT) schedule which has been given the Green Light to start in Portugal on Tuesday 20 December.

Baker has been practising in the Northern Hemisphere since October and is full of confidence after placing third in the recent Pe’ahi Challenge in Hawaii and retaining his BWT rankings lead.

“I’m feeling fit and healthy as I’ve been in California and Hawaii for two months now surfing most of the big swells and this has helped me be prepared mentally and physically for the event,” Baker explained.

“I’ve been here (Nazaré) for a few days warming up and the wave is very similar to beach breaks I’ve surfed on the West coast of Africa and Ocean Beach in San Francisco, so I feel comfortable. Saying that, it looks like the event will run in larger conditions so I’m not to sure what to expect, but I’m confident in my boards which are specifically designed for Nazare by Pukas Surf here in Europe.

“Huge thanks to my wife Kate and daughter Billi for their support, to my family and friends for giving me the confidence to move forward with my dreams and a special shout out to my friend and business partner Reg McDonald, as I couldn’t be doing this without his great work.”

With a series of major swells heading towards the region, all eyes will be on the world’s best big wave surfers as they take on the waves of Praia do Norte (North Beach), a break notorious for its powerful waves and dangerous white water speeds.

“We are excited to call the inaugural Nazaré Challenge on,” said Peter Mel, WSL Big Wave Tour Commissioner. “We have been closely tracking the WNW North Atlantic swell and see that everything should align for a Tuesday start. The waves are projected to be 11-15 metre (35-45-foot-plus) with favourable winds. We are all eager to see how the world’s best big wave surfers push the boundaries with the debut of this event.”

The highly-anticipated Nazaré Challenge is an all-new event on the WSL Big Wave Tour and will be the first paddle-in event to take place at the venue that put Portugal on the map as a big wave haven. The event will be contested by 24 of the best big wave surfers, led by BWT ratings leader Grant “Twiggy” Baker (ZAF), 2015/16 BWT Champion Greg Long (USA), as well as regional event wildcards Alex Botelho (PRT) and Andrew Cotton (GBR).

Surfline, official forecaster for the WSL, are calling for:

Significant storm activity in the North Atlantic in the next few days will deliver a series of XL to possibly XXL swells for Nazaré for most of the week. The first of these swells, which will arrive on Tuesday, is currently expected to produce waves of 10-13 metre (30-40’) on the face, with the largest sets potentially hitting 15 metres (50’) if the storm behaves as forecast in the next couple days. A similar size swell looks possible for Thursday before fading Friday. Local wind will be variable for much of next week, although does look favourable Tuesday morning, Wednesday morning and potentially all of Thursday and Friday.

While the competition is scheduled to start early in the morning Portugal time on Tuesday, December 20, organizers are also keeping the option open of competition days on Wednesday, December 21 and Thursday, December 22, should the local weather conditions call for it.

The total prize purse for the Nazaré Challenge is $100,000 (approx. R1.35 million).

For more information, log onto WorldSurfLeague.com.

Nazaré Challenge Competitors:
Greg Long (USA)
Billy Kemper (HAW)
Nic Lamb (USA)
Carlos Burle (BRA)
Damien Hobgood (USA)
Cristian Merello (CHL)
Ramon Navarro (CHL)
Gabriel Villaran (PER)
Grant Baker (ZAF)
Trevor Carlson (HAW)
Koa Rothman (HAW)
Jamie Mitchell (AUS)
Aaron Gold (HAW)
Kai Lenny (HAW)
Pedro Calado (BRA)
Will Skudin (USA)
Kealii Mamala (HAW)
Kohl Christensen (HAW)
Alex Botelho (PRT)
Hugo Vau (PRT)
Joao de Macedo (PRT)
Antonio Silva (PRT)
Andrew Cotton (GBR)
Tom Butler (GBR)

About The Big Wave Tour (BWT):
The 2016/17 BWT season is divided into Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere components hosting three possible events within each. The Southern Hemisphere window ran from April 27 to August 31, 2016 with event options in Mexico, Chile and Peru. The Puerto Escondido Challenge was the only event to run and saw Baker take the win. The Northern Hemisphere window runs from October 15, 2016 to February 28, 2017 with event options in Portugal, Hawaii and Mexico. The Pe’ahi Challenge was the first event to run on Friday, November 11, and saw Billy Kemper (HAW) and Paige Alms (HAW) claim victory.

ENDS

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

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

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