Occy leads way
More than two decades after winning his first Jeffreys Bay title, Tweed-based surfer Mark Occhilupo remains in the hunt to win a second following a commanding round two win at the Billabong Pro in South Africa yesterday.
Occhilupo beat fellow tour veteran and good friend Kalani Robb in the day's feature second round match-up 15.17 to 12.67, and now advances to a third round clash with another Hawaiian in Bruce Irons, younger brother of reigning world champion Andy.
In his last year on the World Championship Tour before retirement, Occhilupo, is one of 18 Australians who have made it through to the third round, which will feature four all-Australian clashes.
With inconsistent 1-1.3 metre swell throughout the day making wave selection vital for the surfers, Occhilupo was disappointed he didn't show more patience in the water.
"I made a mistake actually, I got inside and I told myself I was going to wait and I didn't," Occhilupo said. "The first wave that came to me I took, like a goose (and) it was no good.
"(Then) a really good wave came, just built up perfectly and then I felt good."
It capped off what was a brilliant day in the water for the Australians with eight winning their second round heats.
Coolangatta's Dean Morrison was way too good for tour rookie and compatriot Kirk Flintoff, while fellow Aussies Luke Egan, Toby Martin, Tom Whitaker, Richie Lovett, Trent Munro and Phil McDonald were also winners.
In a boost for event organisers, most of the big guns have made it through to the third round, led by six-time world champion and ratings leader Kelly Slater, Andy Irons and Coolangatta duo Joel Parkinson and Mick Fanning.