Occy Gets After It recent win caps wonderful career
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 5 April, 2006 : - - Mark Occhilupos victory at Margaret River caps a wonderful career. Of course we are still far from the end, Occy has eleven tournaments remaining in his testimonial year on the Fosters Mens World Tour plus a smattering of farewell appearances on the WQS, including this week in Newcastle, but no matter what happens from here on in, the final go around is already a success.
I remember that first Margaret River Masters that Occy won 21 years ago, it was huge Margs and he knocked off the great MR in the Final. That pairing in such epic surf really put the stamp of class on Margarets as a venue, paving the way for those epic Carroll/Curren showdowns a few years later.
A return to this happy hunting ground as part of the great mans aloha tour paid huge dividends, Occy riding lady luck to snatch victory from defeat to finish with a perfect two out of two record in the west.
The circumstances may have been controversial, former champion Jake Patterson incurring a dreaded interference call at his home event when leading handsomely, but the outcome was still a cause for major celebration.
Occy did have a strong tournament. He had big heat wins in the Rd 64, Rd 32 and the quarters, came second in the semi to local hottie Tom Innes and then managed a crafty finals victory over rising South African Ricky Bassnet, fellow WCT veteran Patterson and young Innes, son of legendary Aussie swimmer Shane Gould.
Mark Occhilupo who turns 40 in June, announced his imminent retirement in February 2005 then recanted that position, qualified comfortably for the 06 Fosters Mens World Championship Tour, had an early hiccup in the Quiksilver Pro but then quashed any doubters by returning to the winners circle at the Margaret River Pro presented by ONeill.
He has assured himself some competitive momentum heading into Bells next week for the Rip Curl Pro. Occy raised the famous Bell over his head during the second coming of his illustrious career and the guy knows all about capitalizing on a good roll of the dice. He is the X factor going in for sure.
Then again, there are several uncanny X men in the Rip Curl Pro draw. Rookie sensations Adriano de Souza and Bobby Martinez began their CT careers in fine style and will move up the seeding order virtue of their equal third placing at Duranbah.
Bobby has been quite a big name for some time and pretty much vindicated his standing with a slick backhand attack on the Gold Coast, so the Bells bowl should be very accommodating to the Californian star. Adriano de Souza shone brightly in his debut performance.
Hailed as the next superstar and the first Brazilan Title contender, Adriano will also relish the various nuances of the fabled southern reef/point, time will also tell if he can adjust to the vast range of conditions Bells is renowned for, not to mention the contrasting mobile sites that feature in the mix.
World Champion Kelly Slater would love to nail a big result in the Rip Curl Pro, as would Taj Burrow and former Rip Curl Pro Champion Andy Irons. Kelly had the perfect start to a title defense, a first up win, and goes into Bells with a psychological advantage.
Victoria has been a challenging surfing coast for the seven-times World Champ, he has only won Bells once, thats how hard this event is, and would love to head off to his pet events in the South Pacific in a commanding position.
Taj has been touted as a Bells winner for years, his lightning speed creating havoc in the chunky bowls, but he is yet to hoist surfings most famous trophy. Andy Irons has definitely tasted success in the cool southern power, a string of great results at Bells, including two wins, have underpinned numerous title campaigns.
More on the Rip Curl Pro in the run-in to next weeks lick-off. This week Occy, Kelly and the boys are pulling into Newcastle for a crack at the Vodafone Pro presented by Billabong. Now you have to hand it to event promoter Warren Smith, he lands some of the biggest names of the sport to his baby, although much credit must go to the one and only Mark Richards.
In deference to the respect the man commands, some of the most enduring superstars roll up at Newy on a regular basis. It is very much in homage to MR, but they dont just pitch up. Mick Fanning has won the event three times in recent years, Occys won it twice and Kelly took it out a couple years back, so the big guns come to town with their game face on, even if it doesnt carry world championship status.
Rabbit Batholomew / ASP World tour
ASP - Surfersvillage