Two Time Event Champion Mark Occhilupo Knocked Out Of Drug Aware Pro At Margaret River

You gotta love that Occy is still battling the groms (albeit selectively) and ripping at the tender age of 43…

Mark Occhilupo returns to Margaret River but is eliminated from the Drug Aware Pro

Margaret River, Western Australia, Thursday April 2 2009: One of surfings great champions, Mark Occhilupo, put the ASP competitive rash vest back on today and took his place as a wildcard in the Drug Aware Pro in good 1.5m (4feet) surf at Margaret River.

The 43 year old former ASP world champion (1999) has an affinity with Margaret River having won this event twice, the first time very early in his esteemed career at 19 way back in 1985 and the second time in the twilight years as a 40 year old in 2006.

Occhilupo scored a reasonable 6:00 ride mid heat and only required a 4.9 to progress but in the end he placed 3rd on a two wave heat tally of 10.65 behind rising stars Tanner Gudauskas (USA) on 14.25 and Dion Atkinson (10.95/AUS).

"I love it here and the organizers always invite me back and it's just a great place" said Occhilupo.

"The disappointment at losing is still in my system, I really thought I had a chance of progressing through that heat and I was in full competitive mode out there today – I doubt that competitive mode will ever leave the system but now I am knocked out I'll enjoy my time at the event and relax with my family here – the disappointment will ease away!"

Fellow ASP World Dream Tour veteran and local surfing idol Jake Paterson (Yallingup /WA) joined Occhilupo as an eliminated wildcard today. Paterson had a shocker of a heat scoring just 4 points while Leonardo Neves (Brazil) posted the mornings top scoring heat with an excellent 16 point tally and Aritz Aranburu (Spain) in 2nd on 15.45.

Other impressive heat winners today included local West Australian surfers Jay Davies (Yallingup) and Luke Campbell (Trigg Point/Perth). Davies is looking particularly ominous and scored the day's top scoring ride with an outstanding 9.33.

With much larger waves forecast for tomorrow's round three Davies is looking forward to the challenges ahead. "Bring on the bigger waves for me" said Davies.

"It's definitely my best chance to do well here, I know the wave well, especially when it starts to max out size wise and tomorrow should be fun."

Queensland's Luke Munro showed a return to form winning his round two heat today comfortably USA surfer Brad Ettinger with Nathan Hedge (AUS) and T J Barron (HAW) eliminated in third and fourth.

Munro won the heat with waves of 7.4 and 6.2 for a combined tally of 13.6 well ahead of Ettinger on 10.9.

Victoria's Nic Muscroft and Spains Hodie Collazo were both strong round two heat winners. Late in the day the round of 24 for the Drug Aware women's was surfed and a further release detailing their performances will be forwarded later.

Drug Aware Pro Margaret River is the biggest ASP World Qualifying Series Six Star Prime Rated event in the world. Prize money totalling $US145 000 and essential prime rated points on the ASP World Qualifying Series ensures an outstanding field of the world's best surfers. A field of more than 250 surfers representing countries such as New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, USA, Peru, Brazil, South Africa, France, Spain, England, Portugal, Reunion Island, Canary Islands, Japan and Israel will be competing with some of Australia's best surfers across the week long event.