Occy is back for Snapper
FORMER ASP world number one Mark "Occy" Occhilupo dipped his toes back into the world of professional surfing yesterday to help steer his beloved club Snapper Rocks Boardriders toward their third National Surftag Championship. In the first heat - as he waited on the beach to be tagged by Shane Bevan - Occy began to think he was the butt of an elaborately conceived prank, but it all was all forgotten as his board hit the water. "I didn't have much time in the first one, I was only in the water for 7 minutes but I caught three waves, and I made sure my power wave counted," Occhilupo said "I would have liked a bit more time out there, it was funny because at first I thought that it was a bit of a set-up, you know, news cameras were here and the time was ticking down, I thought I was going to end up surfing the shore break. "I turned to my mate and asked 'is this a set-up?' cause I knew they were going to ask me you know, 'what about retirement and what are you doing in the contest' sort of thing and I was thinking 'I'm being set up here' but it was OK because I managed to get out the back and get a couple so it was alright." His first surf in a competition since he retired last year, the dominating goofy footer was impressed by the level of competition at the event. "The surfing is all-time. The standard here is as good as CT level because most of the guys here are on the CT or have been on it before". The day started badly for Snapper Rocks after their B team went down in their first heat to a fired-up Byron Bay and Lennox/Ballina, but the club's fortunes turned as their A side cruised through their opening round ahead of Burleigh and Mudjimba. Snapper Rocks (Shane Bevan, Occy, Shaun Grossman, Jay Phillips and Clint Kimmins met some stiff competition in the final -including a near perfect 28.8/30 from Kirra's Corey Ziems - but the overall team effort was enough to see them take back the Queensland Title from last year's champions LeBa. And the Raging Bull is not ruling out an appearance in the final at North Narrabeen in March, "You know what? You never know. If I'm home (in Australia) I'd have a really good think about it because I think it's such a really good format there's no reason why I shouldn't go in it and back it. "Club competitions like this are great because it brings the club tighter and makes the club stronger".