The ancient fishing village of Nazaré, a place where Portuguese pensioners source fresh fruit and vegetables while retired fishermen exchange old fables over coffee and record-breaking waves detonate below the cliff face. A place where limits are tested, making the town one helluva stomping ground for the world’s most fearless and committed athletes on the WSL’s Big Wave Tour.
2 x Big Wave World Champ, Grant Twiggy Baker, is one of the wave riding gladiators ready to face off against what looks like a record-breaking swell in Portugal this weekend. With the swell and the winds expected to all come together, producing clean waves to kick off the Big Wave Tour season tomorrow, we reached out to Twig to get the word on Nazaré 2018:
Zigzag: How is the swell lining up? What are the expected conditions?
Twig: There’s massive swell in the water that will send Nazare XXXXL and I’m pretty sure the World record will be broken this weekend. The WSL need to work around this swell and has called the event for the beginning of it. I would estimate the waves being in the 15 -18ft range with perfect conditions so hopefully we get to see the best of Nazaré this event.
How are you feeling?
I feel great, I’ve been in Europe for 6 weeks with the family preparing for this, mostly surfing Nazare in all different conditions, so I’ve put in the time to give myself the best possible chance to do well.
You once said that Nazare was too sketchy for a paddle-in big wave contest. Does your opinion on that still stand? If not, what’s changed?
I actually never said that, the media twisted my words. What I did say was it was too dangerous to catch jet skis out from the beach and that the WSL needed to come up with an alternative to us starting heats on the beach. They have done this and we now leave our boards on a boat out the back and start the heats out there. The wave itself isn’t necessarily the most dangerous, it’s more the logistics that go into being able to approach it safely that need to be looked at carefully.
What are you riding for this?
I have some TWIG Models by Pukas Surf over here and I’m going to have a 10’0, 10’3 and 10’6 on standby. Hopefully, we are on 10’0s and doing some high-performance surfing in 15ft barrels.
Who is the biggest threat / most in-form surfer?
Lucas, Kai, Billy and Nathan have set themselves apart recently and have the hunger of youth, with some experience under their belts. It’s going to be an epic year to compete and try to do well.
What’s your strategy for this event?
I have figured out the lineup somewhat and have a better idea of what looks like a good wave so I’m going to use that to my advantage and try to catch the best waves in the middle of the peak and make them to the shoulder.
Portugal is a good vibe. Beers, wine and good chow. You focused on eating and surfing well, or trying to strike a balance between living the good life and being a professional athlete?
I’ve had the family here so we have been low key at home and just focused on surfing and staying healthy. There is a full surf center here with a gym, pool and other training facilities so I’ve been flat out the past few weeks getting myself ready for Friday.
Why are you the lone Saffa on the big wave world tour?
Our youngsters, unfortunately, got their legs cut off when we chased the WSL away from Dungeons and if that hadn’t happened I have no doubt that Josh and Matt would be on the tour right now, sponsored to the max and living the big wave surf dream. It’s a horrible situation and I can only hope that one day we can get our event back and get our best young surfers on tour.
Check the Twig’s pedigree below, in his latest Striped Horse Challenge entry.
Surfer: Grant Twiggy Baker Videographer: Adrian Charles Location: West Coast