Grant “Twiggy” Baker is a name typically associated with charging big waves in the surfing world. But, since 2010, the South African has been having fun tearing it up on SUP during his downtime from traditional surfing. As the Standup World Tour’s pack of pros compete for the first win of the year at the Sunset Beach Pro, Twiggy will be there, paddle in hand, for his first time competing on an SUP. The big wave specialist talks to SUP mag about entering the Sunset Pro and why he’s stoked on standup. —Shari Coble
SUP mag: How’d you get into standup?
Twig: A few years ago, I was approached by Guy Schroeder from Coreban. He was looking for surfers to get into standup paddling to help better the overall image of the sport and his brand. He offered me free boards and some travel budget and the rest is history.
SUP mag: How have you been preparing for the Sunset Pro?
Twig: I’ve been living at Alligators on the North Shore for the past three months and standup paddling as much as possible out in front of my house at the break known as “Little Sunset”.
SUP mag: How do you think you’ll fare against the competition?
Twig: I have no idea. I’m hoping the waves will be big, which will give me a little better chance. From what I’ve seen of the top guys on video, if it’s small I’ll get my ass kicked!
SUP mag: What board are you going to use?
Twig: 8’11″ Coreban Lithium
SUP mag: Do you have any expectations for the contest?
Twig: The swell report looks good from Friday for at least three days, so my expectations are to get good, big Sunset with a few guys out.
SUP mag: What do you think about the stigma of SUP in the surfing and big wave world?
Twig: I am a surfer, kiteboarder, bodysurfer or whatever-boarder that keeps me in the ocean, fit, healthy and happy, so I pay no attention to stigmas towards any sport. What I won’t do however is go into a crowded surfing lineup and start taking waves—this can only lead to tension.
SUP mag: Why are other big wave surfers getting into standup?
Twig: It’s a great training tool for every aspect of big wave surfing. It’s really fun and far more appealing to me than hitting the gym.
SUP mag: Do you have plans to continue competing on the Standup World Tour or in other SUP contests?
Twig: Not really. I like Sunset as a wave and feel I surf pretty well out there, so it was natural to want to get in this event, but who knows if I do well?
SUP mag: Will we ever see you SUP big waves?
Twig: I think each sport has it’s place and don’t believe that a SUP is the correct equipment for very big (over 15-foot) or heavy barreling surf—I prefer to just go surfing when the conditions are like that. Sunset is a great SUP wave, however, and I’m looking forward to catching a few waves out there this week!
Check back for news and updates as SUP magazine covers the Sunset Beach Pro.