Mark Occhilupo and Billabong today announced that their partnership will continue for at least the next eleven years. The new agreement will see Occy’s association with Billabong cover thirty two years and into the next evolution of his career.
Occhilupo, who captured the imagination of the public with his amazing comeback to a 1999 World Surfing Championship at thirty three years of age is one of the most loved figures in not only surfing, but all sport. With a top level career that spans three decades, he can legitimately lay claim to being one of surfing’s true greats.
Occy’s relationship with Billabong is unique in world sport. Billabong founder Gordon Merchant, first sponsored Occy on the recommendation of Cronulla Surf Designs shop owner Mark Aprillavic in 1980. Occy set the surfing world alight with a string of victories and incredible freesurfing that saw him become the focus of global media attention. Occy’s well documented retirement from competition, his subsequent facing of personal demons and return in the nineties to a world championship all occurred with unwavering support from Billabong.
Billabong founder Gordon Merchant said “Occy was an integral part of getting Billabong established particularly in the US where he won two WCT’s at Huntington Beach, competing against Tom Curren and surfing some of the most memorable finals seen in the US mainland. Occy is one of the best exponents of power surfing the world has ever seen. I have personally enjoyed my association with Mark throughout his career. It is very rewarding to have sponsored someone so loyal and it is wonderful to see Billabong and Mark continue this association for another ten years.”
Occhilupo said “Words can’t explain how good Billabong has been to me through thick and thin. They have supported me from Gordon Merchant all the way down to the machinists on the factory floor. I know them all personally and I love them. I am really excited about the next ten years. At the moment, my focus is on competition, but I am looking forward to contributing in a lot of different ways down the track.”
Billabong’s General Manager Dougall Walker said “Occy is clearly still a major contender for a world crown, but his relationship with Billabong runs a lot deeper than contest surfing. Both Occy and Billabong saw the importance of planning out the next few years. At the moment, Mark’s focus is fairly and squarely on competition, but we both recognised that the next few years will see a transition to more film and editorial projects, along with Billabong event wildcards and his continued role as an ambassador for Billabong globally. Occy has also shown a real desire to spend more time snowboarding when he leaves full time competition and we see that as a great thing too.”
[IMAGE 3]Fellow Billabong tour veteran, travelling companion and long time mate, Luke Egan said “In the early days Occy made Billabong and in later years Billabong made Occy with the support for his comeback and he rewarded us all with his world title. It is great to see Billabong securing Occy’s future. He can focus on being a surfer without any worries now.”