One of the pleasant surprises resulting from Mark Occhilupo’s retirement from competitive surfing this year has been his presence as a color commentator at Billabong sponsored WCT events. The webcast audiences for ‘CT events have grown in large numbers over the past few years and Occy’s silky smooth and unbelievably witty style is turning out to be pure gold in the commentary booth. Most of the commentators used in the various events have been……okay. But no one brings flavor, knowledge, and slick humor to the people the way the world champ does.
Scott Bass from Surfer put these Occy-ism’s together coming out of the Pipeline Masters-
“Santa Claus is more of a legend than Gerry and Rory, isn’t he?”
(this was as a Santa-suit laden Garrett McNamara SUP’d around Pipe as legends Gerry Lopez and Rory Russell went about their Masters expression session.)
“That’s a bit of a tongue twister isn’t it, ‘Rory Russell replica boards, hmmm yeah, don’t try that with crackers in your mouth.’”
“Dave Rastovich, there he is off in the jungle, cutting down trees and making surfboards. Rasta doesn’t cut down lots of trees, mind you. He only cuts down the tree that’ll make a good surfboard.”
“What was that stingray thinking? I hope he’s alright! That stingray had a bad wipeout.”
(An ASP cameraman captured a shot of a stingray leaping out of the water just in front of a bottom-turning Kelly Slater. The stingray looked like it was about to go for a ride in the wall of white water.)
The classic end to Occy’s brilliance came when word came that Joel Parkinson had in fact clinched the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title. An overjoyed Occy called Joel up live on the webcast with a cellphone, congratulated his mate on the accomplishment, and then proceeded to place the cell phone against the microphone so Parko could say a few things to those watching online. It didn’t work, but it didn’t matter. Occy once again lefty us with some of that pure Occy gold.
Hopefully someone on the ASP is taking note. Finding a way to make Mark Occhilupo a full-time commentator for all of their events needs to be somewhere on their 2009 to-do list.