The Occy Party: A Brazilian’s Perspective by Adrian Kojin/ Fluir magazine
Saturday, July 16, 1999.
The announcer started the countdown. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, and at the sound of the horn, Mark Occhilupo jumped and yelled celebrating his first world title. Flavio Padaratz had just won the deciding heat against Mick Campbell, and the legendary Australian known as “The Raging Bull” was on the sidewalk of Sernambetiba Avenue in Barra Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, surrounded by friends, fans, photographers and TV crews. When, after fourteen years as a professional surfer and at the age of 33, he became the oldest and most deserving World Champion in history. He couldn’t believe it and was almost in a state of shock. He then walked to the press room and gave an interview to all the magazines, newspapers, and TV reporters before heading to his apartment at the Barramares flat. There he started a party with his Australian and Brazilian friends that would last from Saturday afternoon until early Sunday morning, the day of the Rio Marathon Surf International finals.
He didn’t let anybody bother him in his apartment and called his wife in Australia to tell her the good news. She couldn’t believe it and kept asking him to explain how it happened, but Occy was in such an emotional state he just kept repeating that he was the World Champion. The plan for the night was to go to a small Mexican restaurant to celebrate with his friends, including Ricardo Piazza of Billabong Brazil and Fernando Rego of Oakley Brazil, who took really good care of Occy in Brazil and organized the get – together at the restaurant, El Mexicano.
Mick Lowe (who was disputing the title with him), Shane Powell, Luke Egan, Munga Barry, Mark Bannister, Richard Lovett, Beau Emerton, Luke Hitchings, Todd Prestage, Shane Wehner, and Glyndon Ringrose were there along with the girls who compete on the WCT, including Layne Beachley and Megan Abubo.
With plenty of beers, straight tequila, and delicious margaritas flowing nonstop, it didn’t take long before all the boys started yelling, singing, jumping, and doing all sorts of crazy things to show their approval of Occy’s conquest. The atmosphere was overflowing with positive energy. At one point, while wearing a Mexican sombrero, Occy climbed on some beams and tried to make a speech with very little success as he could barely manage to talk. Everybody started chanting, “Occy, Occy, Occy,” really loudly and it definitely was a moving and beautiful moment.
Around one in the morning, Munga Barry had to leave the party to rest for his heat Sunday morning. When he got to the Barramares flat, he found out all his boards (plus some clothes and money) had been stolen from his apartment and called the people at the party to tell them. They all decided to go check what was happening at the Barramares and left the restaurant.
When Occy got to his room he found out his boards had been stolen, too, but he caught the three kids who did it when they came back for more. One of the kids escaped via the stairs, but they managed to immobilize the other two, who gave the boards and all the stolen stuff back. They were only twelve – year – old surfers who lived in one of the Barramares complex buildings and found out where the Australians hid the keys to the apartments. The Billabong crew decided not to call the police and turned the boys over to one of the boys’ fathers, an older surfer who couldn’t believe what his son had done. He was really ashamed and told his kid that he was prohibited to surf for the next six months.
After all that confusion was solved, Occy and the boys kept partying at his apartment. Obviously, he lost his heat against Peterson Rosa Sunday morning. He didn’t care, as all he wanted was to enjoy the day before departing to Australia to see his family. Beer in hand, he watched and cheered Taj Burrow’s victory, gave many interrviews, posed for a lot of photos, and behaved like a really likeable World Champion.