Grant 'Twiggy' Baker: the XXL surfer

Grant "Twiggy" Baker from Durban, South Africa, took top Ride of the Year honors in the premier category of the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy at a glittering function in Anaheim, California last night.

Baker, 36, pocketed US $50,000 for his incredible ride on an enormous wave which he paddled into during the Maverick's Surf Contest at Half Moon Bay in Northern California on February 13, 2010.

“This is for my country, South Africa! We have the FIFA (soccer) World Cup later this year, and we’re a proud nation,” Baker said in his victory speech after thanking the El Nino weather conditions for producing an amazing year of big waves around the planet, his fellow nominees for their incredible performances and confessing that he did not have a speech prepared as he did not expect to win.

“Thanks to all the guys back at Dungeons (in Cape Town) and everyone here tonight. Drinks are on me!” Baker added as he celebrated on stage with the giant check.

Regarded as the Oscars of big wave surfing, the Tenth Annual XXL Awards recognize the biggest and heaviest waves ridden and documented over the past twelve months anywhere in the world.

2,300 surf-stoked fans packed the Grove Theater in Anaheim to witness mind-blowing rides from Chile, South Africa, Australia, Hawaii, Mexico, California and French Polynesia.

In what proved to be one of the best years in big wave surfing history, over 1000 images and videos were submitted for judging.

The awards are decided by a panel of 400 surfers, selected surf media, and big wave aficionados.

Sebastian Steudtner (Nuremberg, Germany) finished first in the Billabong XXL Biggest Wave division for a giant tow-in ride at Jaws, Maui, Hawaii on a monster wave that took everyone by surprise for its size and speed.

It was the first time a German surfer had appeared on the XXL stage.

“It feels good; it’s what I live for,” said Steudtner. “I moved to Hawaii when I was 16; a Hawaiian family took me in and taught me how to surf. I am honored to win this thing.”

Shawn Dollar officially surfed into the record books for riding a paddle-in wave judged to be 55 feet on the face to win the Monster Paddle Award.

The previous Guinness Book best was held by Californian Taylor Knox for a 52-foot wave ridden at Todos Santos, Mexico, in 1998.

“It’s like winning a Gold Medal or winning the World Series,” said Dollar. “It’s been the most important thing in my life for many years and I’ve accomplished it – phenomenal!”

The 2010 Billabong XXL Awards were webcast in over a dozen countries with a worldwide audience that broke records for a surfing awards event.

The awards ceremony was webcast live on and simulcast on The event will be broadcast on the ESPN networks starting May 18.

In all, over $130,000 in cash and prizes were awarded to the world's greatest big wave surfers in this edition of the Billabong XXL Global Big Wave Awards presented by Monster Energy.

2010 Billabong XXL Big Wave Awards | Results

1st: Grant Baker (Durban, South Africa) at Maverick’s, California on February 13, 2010. (Video by Noel Robinson)
(Surfer prize $50,000 - Video prize $5,000)
2nd: Ramon Navarro (Pichilemu, Chile) at Waimea Bay, Hawaii on December 8, 2009.
(Surfer prize $5,000)
3rd: Shane Dorian (Kona, Kauai, Hawaii) Maverick’s, California on February 13, 2010.
(Surfer prize $1,500)
4th: Raimana Van Bastolaer (Tahiti, French Polynesia) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on March 17, 2010.
(Surfer prize $1,500)
5th: Mark Healey/Shane Dorian (Sunset Beach & Kona, Hawaii, USA) at Waimea Bay, Hawaii on December 7, 2009.
(Surfer prize $1,500)

Sebastian Steudtner (Nuremburg, Germany) at Jaws, Maui on December 7th, 2009. (Photo by Batel Shimi)
(Surfer prize $15,000 and a Honda Aquatrax watercraft with HSA sled - Photo/video prize $4,000)

Shawn Dollar (Santa Cruz, California, USA) at Mavericks, California on February 13th, 2010 (Photo by Fred Pompermayer)
(Surfer prize $15,000 - Photo/video prize $4,000)

Raimana Van Bastolaer (Tahiti, French Polynesia) at Teahupoo, Tahiti on March 17th, 2010. (Photo by Ben Thouard)
(Surfer prize $5,000 - Photography prize $2,000)

Shane Dorian (Kona, Hawaii)
(Surfer prize $5,000)

Maya Gabeira (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
(Surfer prize $5,000)

Brook Phillips Shipsterns Bluff, Tasmania, Australia on October 19th, 2009.

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