One of surfings most endearing and respected pros is calling it quits after this years WCT season. After 22 years, 21 career victories, and a 1999 World Championship, Mark “Occy Occhilupo has decided it’s time to spend more time at home with his family in Australia.
“I have had a great career. I’ve done all the things from when I was a grommet that I’ve wanted to do that’s why I’m calling 2005 my last year. I want to leave on a high note. I feel like I could probably keep on going for a few more years but I want to finish my career surfing as good as I can, and I feel as I am at that stage right now. I don’t want to be going at about 50% and just making up the numbers,” said Occy from Billabong Australia headquarters.”I want to show that you shouldn’t drag it out – you should go out with a bang, and my surfing is good enough at the moment to do that. I will be 39 this year and 40, next year so I just feel like it is a good time,” he added.
Everybody has their favorite Occy moments and mine personally was this year on the North Shore of O’ahu, when my brother and I hung out at the Billabong house with Occy, Luke Egan, Andy, Beau Emerton, and Koby Abberton. To spend time with (and especially to drink beer with) Occy is a dream for any surfer, especially two goofyfoots from California who watched Occy’s career unfold right in front of our eyes. From the day he burst onto the scene as an unknown kid with a funny name, to his epic battles with Curren at Huntington Beach, to his amazing perfornmaces in movies like Bunyip Dreaming and The Green Iguana, to his World Title run, he was always everyone’s favorite.
But it’s not like I’m writing an obituary. Occy will be surfing the entire 2005 WCT season, his swan song, and participating in select Billabong-sponsored events like Mundaka and J-Bay, in the 2006 season.
Thanks for the memories Occ! You are a true class act, and in my humble opinion, the best goofy foot ever. Below is a press-released mini-interview.
Q. What do you hope to achieve in your final year on tour?
A. “Well anything is possible you know, I have been training really hard and we have had a great run of surf here on the Gold Coast over the last month and I am feeling really fit. I don’t want to make any wild claims but anything is possible and a want to finish with a good strong year.
Q. What will you miss most about life on tour?
A. “I will miss a lot about life on tour, just looking at the results and the waves that they were in, and just thinking, jeeze I could have done well there I will really miss going to Hawaii and getting to compete in the Triple Crown, it’s a big thing, and I never even got to win a Triple Crown, but I have still got one year left, so hopefully I’ll get one.
Q. What will you miss least about life on tour?
A.”Well, I won’t be missing home, and I wont miss traveling on airplanes and living out of a suitcase. I certainly won’t miss packing up the show each week to get to the next spot.
Q. Who would you like to thank, who has really influenced your surfing career?
A. “I really like to thank Gordon Merchant, he started my career off and we used to travel together and put a lot of smart information in my head. Gordon sponsored me obviously and bought me a ticket on tour when I didn’t have a lot of good results or anything. He gave me the start up and then really helped me along the way.
Q. Who do you like for the next couple of years?
A. “A little inside tip would be Joel, but I think that Andy is going to be really hard to beat to. I think that Taj could give it a good go.
Q. So what do you think about Jay, do you think he’s got potential?
A. “He’s got potential for sure, and he will tell you too. I’m not going to push Jay though, he is nearly two now and he loves the water. But we are only just teaching him to swim. We take him in the water and he gets dumped, but he hasn’t been dumped too bad yet.
“He has already worked out that I surf, beccause every time he sees me on the telly he says daddy daddy, and when we pull up to the surf he say’s daddy daddy. In Hawaii this year, one morning was completely massive and he was like, daddy daddy, your out there, I was like hang on mate, hang on. So he knows what I do and I’m sure he will want to be a surfer but I don’t want to push him into it too quick.
Q. So is he a Goofy or a Natural?
A. “I think he could be a natural, but I don’t want to say yet
For more on Occy, check out www.billabong.com