Mark Occhilupo: still great, after all these years

Mark "Occy" Occhilupo, the world surfing champion surfer from Australia, will return to competitive waves after being confirmed as wildcard for the 2011 Breaka Burleigh Pro, to be held in the Gold Coast, Australia, between February 16th-20th.

Like the Port Wine - the older, the better - Occhilupo is always up and running. He and local Burleigh Heads rising star, Thomas Woods, will be causing a few headaches for the world’s best surfers with their waving wildcards.

Occhilupo competed in last year's inaugural Breaka Burleigh Pro, which included a memorable Round of 96 win over former sparring partner, the enigmatic Nicky Wood, who famously won the Rip Curl Pro Bells Beach as a teenager in the 1980's.

Thomas Woods will be flying the famous red-and-white flag of the Burleigh Heads Boardriders Club, with the red-hot teenager sure to cause a few headaches for the world's best surfers at his local break, having knocked out ASP World Tour competitor Tom Whitaker, in last year's Round of 64.

While Occhilupo and Woods will headline the Wildcard competitors at this year's event, Rhys Stevens, a 22-year-old Bulimba marketing rep will be throwing his hat into the professional surfing ring, as Breaka Flavoured Milk's "Win a Wildcard" competition winner.

Growing up in the New South Wales surf-rich town of Port Macquarie, Rhys started surfing at the age of eight, before moving to Brisbane, entering the workforce and like so many others, forgoing an iconic Australian childhood dream of becoming a professional surfer.

Taj Burrow, Joel Parkinson, Bede Durbidge, Adrian Buchan, Jeremy Flores, Kieren Perrow, Brett Simpson, Pat Gudauskas, Tiago Pires, Adam Melling, Daniel Ross, Josh Kerr, Dusty Payne, Julian Wilson and local hero Jay ‘Bottle’ Thompson will be joining Occhilupo for the 2011 Breaka Burleigh Pro.