Mundaka, Spain, Hawaiian Shane Dorian today claimed his first World Championship Tour (WCT) victory for the year, and second ever, overcoming defending event and current world champion Mark Occhilupo (Aus) in the final of the Billabong Pro. In perfect 4-6 foot (2m) conditions at the famed lefthander of Mundaka, Spain, situated two-hours drive south of the main contest site in Anglet, France, competitors put on an amazing show at one of the world’s finest waves.
In a risky move by contest organizers yesterday afternoon, the decision was made to relocate for the final day of the waiting period when only three heats remained and great waves were available at the main site of Cavaliers, Anglet. The gamble paid off big this morning, however, when clean lines presented themselves with just enough time available before the increasing tide affected the lineup.
Dorian, now fourth on the adjusted ratings, surfed an inspired semifinal against Australian Danny Wills, and then carried this form onwards into the grand finale against Occhilupo. He waited patiently for the better waves, finding two of his best three rides near the start of the 45-minute match, while his opponent seemed more anxious, catching smaller ones and finished needed a combination of scores. Last time the pair met in a final the result had swung the other way. Dorian’s success today made all the sweeter by the fact his mother was present to witness the special moment.
“It’s hard to describe in words,” began Dorian to the gathered crowd, after his mother had rushed to congratulate him. “I think it’s pretty cool that Billabong had the balls to come down here. Just take a gamble and hope for excellent waves, ’cause the waves at Anglet yesterday were really good. Also, it’s just such a huge bonus to have my mom here. It’s her first time to this area and we’ve been having the best time and this just tops it off.
“If at the start of this contest you would have asked me who the hardest draw at Mundaka would have been, it would have been Occy, for sure,” admitted the Hawaiian. “He’s definitely one of the hardest guys to beat out here, and obviously he won last year. So when I made the final I knew it was going to be a really tough heat and I just tried to catch the good waves and hope that nothing happened for him. I got real lucky and that was it, I won.
“It’s only my second win and I’ve been on tour for… seems like forever (seven years), so it’s pretty sweet,” he continued. “And to beat Occy in perfect waves is nice. He was surfing amazing in that semifinal and got that 10 (point ride) in the last 40-seconds, so I knew he could get a couple of those in the last six-minutes out there. He was congratulating me with nine-minutes to go and I was like, ‘Don’t even give me that, I see how you are with getting 10’s (laughs), so don’t do that until it’s over.’
“Things were a bit erratic at the start of the year,” he concluded, in regard to his results in 2000. “I had a couple of bad results and then a good one, then some average ones and now another good one. Hopefully I can maintain some consistency throughout the rest of the year and finish pretty high.”
Occhilupo, now rated 11th, looked set to claim his second consecutive Billabong Pro title before meeting Dorian in the final, as his semifinal against CJ Hobgood was one of the most exciting heats seen all year on tour, if not longer. The world champ amassed the highest total heat score of the entire event with 28.65 out-of-a possible 30-points, and found the only perfect 10-point ride awarded by the judges on his last wave, with less than one-minute to go. The same good fortune, though, was missing when he wanted it most.
Finishing equal third today were Hobgood and Wills. Hobgood’s losing score to Occhilupo in their semifinal would have won almost any other heat this tournament, and as his opponent pointed out, has been surfing fantastically this entire European leg, winning the last event in Hossegor, France, less than two weeks ago.
The tour next moves to Trestles, California, for the next Billabong Pro, September 24-29.
Official Results Of The Billabong Pro Final Day
1st S Dorian (Haw) 26.50 def. M Occhilupo (Aus) 20.65
SF1: M Occhilupo (Aus) 28.65 def. CJ Hobgood (USA) 25.85
SF2: S Dorian (Haw) 21.15 def. D Wills (Aus) 15.15