Fuel TV's very own Occy defeated Layne Beachley to win the Single Fin division of the Four Seasons Surfing Champions Trophy in off-shore, one metre (2-4ft) waves at Sultan's Point, Maldives.
The opening day of the inaugural event, saw historic match-ups between six former world champions, who all drew clean lines across the reef break waves as they showcased the single fin surfing style of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Despite the nostalgia, passions ran high amongst the sensational six surfers who own an impressive 20 world titles between them.
Occhilupo, 45, dominated the final with his trademark backhand top to bottom turns to leave seven-time world champion Beachley, 39, requiring a near perfect 9.57 on the final siren. ‘Occy’ who posted his first win since his 2001 Mentawai Islands, Indonesia victory, admitted to a few nerves about taking on Beachley in the final.
“I felt pressure for sure,” said Occhilupo.
“Layne beat Damien (Hardman) in the semis and she was surfing great on that single fin. She got a couple of good waves in the final too, but I was lucky to get the better ones,” said Occhiupo.
The 1999 world champion, who travelled into the Maldives fresh from commentating at the Billabong Pro Tahiti, said the win capped off an incredible week of surfing.
“It really has been the BEST couple weeks I have ever had,” said Occhilupo.
“My last surf before the Maldives was in 8 to 10ft Chopes. Then to come straight to the Maldives and win the single fin event when I haven’t surfed on a single fin in about 25 years is just incredible.
“I’m so stoked my shaper Jason Stephenson ‘JS’ shaped me a really good board. I’m ecstatic right now and feel primed to take out the entire event,” added Occhilupo.
Lone female competitor Beachley, proved she was not to be underestimated in the class field, finishing second overall and causing the elimination of two time world champion Hardman in a close fought semi-final.
“It was such a pleasure to be competing against my idols,” said a gracious Beachley. “The only female in an all male crew and to make the final against Occy was just awesome, he is one of my heroes.”
“I just hope Dooma (Damien Hardman) talks to me at dinner tonight,” joked Beachley.
In the second semi Occhilupo eliminated 2006 world longboard champion Josh Constable (Noosa, Aus), 30, after a tight tussle in a wave-challenged semi. Constable was holding priority in the dying minutes and only required an achievable six-point ride to advance, but poor positioning robbed him of the opportunity.
“It’s a buma,” said Constable.
“I thought I was placed well strategically in the heat but I paddled too far up the point. Occy got the wave and the win.
“But still it was such an honour to surf a heat with Occy and I borrowed MR’s board. So that was really cool.”
Surfing icons Mark Richards (Newcastle, Aus) and Nat Young (Angourie, Aus) were both unlucky to lose in their opening heats despite impressing all with their performances. Both legends will be out for better results in the remaining two divisions in the Four Seasons Resorts Maldives Surfing Champions Trophy of Twins Fins and Thrusters.
Occhilupo is in awe of both surfers stating:
“This morning I surfed with Mark Richards and I kept on falling off in front of him and he said ‘I’m hexing you’ but it was the pressure of competing against my idol. I never got to compete with Nat Young today but he is the soul master and still ripping” said Occhilupo.
The right hand coral reef break of Sultan’s Point is located just off the luxurious five star Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Kuda Huraa where all competitors have been living the high life. The unique tournament conceived in conjunction with luxury surf pioneers Tropicsurf was run from the three-deck, thirty-nine metre Four Seasons Explorer luxury catamaran.
Only two days are required to finalise competition and conditions will be accessed tomorrow morning in the Maldives with an official call to be made at 8:00 am local time as to whether the Twin Fin division will be staged,
Four Seasons Resorts Maldives wish to thank its kind co-sponsors of the 2011 Surfing Champions Trophy; HSBC, Billabong, Wataniya Telecom Maldives, Surfing World and Singapore Airlines.
Four Seasons Surfing Champions Trophy Single Fin Division Results:
Final: Mark Occhiupo (Aus) 15.66 def Layne Beachley 11.67
Semi Final 1
Layne Beachley (Aus) 14.23 def Damien Hardman (Aus) 14.00
Semi Final 2
Mark Occhilupo 14.07 def Josh Constable (Aus) 10.84
Round 1 Heat 1
1st Damien Hardman; 2nd Josh Constable; 3rd Mark Richards (Aus)
Round 1 Heat 2
1st: Mark Occhilupo: 2nd Layne Beachley: 3rd Nat Young (Aus)