The waiting period for the Rip Curl Pro is just around the corner, and in its honor, we’ve dug through the Bells Beach archives and found two golden gems for this week’s rendition of Throwback Clip of the Week.
Today, let’s turn the clock of professional surfing back to the years when one power-based goofyfoot by the name of Mark Occiluppo completely owned the Bells Bowl.
It all started in 1997, when Occy entered the non-rated Super Skins event (which you can watch above) that was held at Bells just a few weeks after the Rip Curl Pro ended. The format of the contest was modeled after a golf “skins” tournament, where basically the winner of each heat wins $5,000 and keeps advancing through man-on-man heats until he’s knocked out. I still don’t completely understand how it works, but the format is beside the point. The waves that day were firing–six- to 10-feet and perfect–and Occy put on a jaw-dropping performance of timeless power-surfing.
Bells is often a mushburger of a wave. But Occy’s backhand dance on the Bell’s Bowl made it look like a high-performance playground. Occy went on to win 11 straight heats, taking home $55,000 and a new Jeep Wrangler. Mick Fanning was at the event that year as a grom and swears Occ’s performance would still garner perfect scores on the ‘CT today.
Occy backed up his performance with a win the following year at the 1998 Rip Curl Pro against Shane Dorian–his first world tour event victory in 12 years. Watch more of Occy’s late-nineties command over Bells in the video (courtesy of Encyclopedia of Surfing) below.