Twiggy struggles in Portugal

Grant Baker in action at the Nazaré Challenge at Nazaré, Leiria, Portugal. Photo: WSL / Justes.

Salt Rock’s Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker, the reigning World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) Champion, battled through three rounds of daunting six to nine meter waves to finish fifth in the Nazare Challenge at Praia de Norte in Portugal on Sunday.

Baker (43) a two-time BWT Champion (2013 and 2017) was the oldest competitor in the six-man final.

The second-ever BWT event at Nazaré ran over two days after dangerous conditions threatened the competitors following the opening heats on Saturday.

This third stop on the 2017 / 2018 BWT was won by rising big wave star Lucas Chianca, 22, from Brazil who won all three heats he contested with an amazing repertoire of manoeuvres more commonly seen performed on waves a quarter the size of those on offer at this event.

WATCH: Salt Rock’s ‘Twiggy’ crowned Big Wave Tour world champion

Competing in just his second BWT event, Chianca earned his first finals appearance and event win yesterday after dominating the competitive 24-man field, made up of the world’s best male big wave surfers. The young Brazilian demonstrated command over Nazaré’s powerful waves and challenging white-water speeds to climb up to No. 5 on the Big Wave Tour rankings.

Baker and Chianca shared the second wave of the contest on a set that saw a split peak between the pair. Baker was only able to pick up a 3.50, while Chianca gained control of the heat with an authoritative 7.33.

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Allan Troskie

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