The miracle of Mark Occhilupo, almost sixty and daddy to nine, laid bare at Jeffrey’s Bay!

“Built like a duck and surfing like a big cat.”

God bless the great Mark Occhilupo, and I mean that sincerely. Surfers come and go, light up an epoch and then disappear, usually without glory. 

Occhilupo, however, turns sixty in two years, is daddy to nine children and young adults, and still lives the surfer’s dream.

He has a “little nook” at Rainbow Bay and is up at three-thirty every morning, and never with a hangover for he quit drinking almost a decade ago (“It was my nemesis”), chasing the four am Gold Coast sunrise and those precious few uncrowded runners.

Warshaw’s EOS describes Occ as being “built like a duck” and surfing “like a big cat.” He also wrote that Occ is “warm, childlike, giggly, easily upset by violent movies.”

Mark Occhilupo has been largely ignored by the ravages of ageing and is a finely balanced combination of enthusiasm and confidence. 

He is a world champion and a runner-up to the world title, is still regarded by most as the best surfer ever at Bells, and possibly Jeffreys Bay, and has a spirit that bristles with a scorching flame. 

In this short clip, we see Occ during the recent exhibition contest there riding the famous righthander as if he were the sheriff riding past in a golden coach.



Re-watch: Nathan Florence’s epic telling of biggest-ever Eddie Aikau event in history!

"Every paddle out, every wipeout and every glorious ride."

It was ironic, last January, when the “best day in surfing history,” as big-wave world champ Billy Kemper described it, had nothing to do with the WSL, surf brands or even, as the winner was announced on the beach by Clyde Aikau, a professional surfer.

In building twenty-to-thirty-foot surf, Luke Shepardson, twenty-seven, who started the morning by clocking in to his gig as a North Shore lifeguard, took a few hours off work and by day’s end had beaten the most stacked field in the event’s history.

Apart from defending champ John John Florence, who finished second, Shepardson outsurfed big-wave world champs Makua Rothman and Billy Kemper, both surprise competitors after suffering injuries at the Backdoor Shootout, Kai Lenny, Zeke Lau, Grant Baker, Ross Clarke-Jones and so on.

In Nathan Florence’s telling of the event, middle bro does what he does best: a quick intro, in this case walking along the Kam Highway in the pre-dawn darkness, then has his filmers capture every moment from a truly epic day, and, in the edit, the action is allowed to breathe, so to speak.

Watch on a big screen, sound up so you can hear the thunder of the ocean and the gasps of the crowd as closeout sets hammer the best surfers in the world and the jet-ski teams roar shoreward.

Yeah, it’s old but, also, ageless.

Jewish-Hawaiian surf champ Koa Rothman scores epic eight-foot Kanduis with no one out!

“Everyone was telling me, that wave is so crowded, 100 guys out, but swear to god, it was draining and no one out."

It’s impossible to be even lightly critical of Koa Rothman, the middle son of North Shore enforcer Fast Eddie Rothman and brother to big-wave world champion Makua.

Despite being a fierce critic of BeachGrit, his courage, vigour and pugnacity count him as a man of sound ethics. You’ll remember four years ago when he sent a message to the world just prior to the opening of the Hawaiian season politely letting visitors know he’d be enjoying any wave he damn well wanted at Pipe and, therefore, not to take any drop-ins personally.

“This year, this winter here in Hawaii, 2020, 2021, I will be going on whatever wave I want at Pipeline,” he said. “No hard feelings. I’m not trying to be a dick. I’m just letting you know now that is what is going to be happening. So have a great day and watch out.”

Six days back, we saw Koa Rothman on the island of Sumbawa rediscovering Super Suck, one of those vintage Indonesian surf spots just coming back into the limelight, with the same insouciance and style he demonstrates at Pipeline.

Koa said it was the “craziest wave” he’d ever surfed and his sessions there comprised “one of the best days of surfing of my entire life.”

Could his Indonesian voyage get any better?

Well, yes!

After travelling from Sumbawa to the Mentawai Island chain many nautical miles to the west, Koa Rothman checks into the noted Kandui Villas where he scores one of the best waves in the entire chain…empty!

“What a day! Some of the sickest surf. That was crazy,” says Koa, hair healthy and unruly, sea-spray eyes shaped like pecans. “Pumping Kandui with no-one out. Everyone was telling me, that wave is so crowded, one hundred guys out, but swear to god, it was eight feet and draining and no one out. Boats weren’t even showing up.”

Koa says the wave at Kandui is special because, “it’s not only a perfect lefthand barrel but it’s a barrel that’s super round, square hollow, you’re never stalling, just pumping the whole way.”

In a voice that is precise, Koa wrapping his vowels around his tongue like a bacon around a fork, he tells the viewer,

“The best feeling ever is pumping through a big barrel.”

So true and so essential.

And watch to the end for a late-night horror story about sea snakes!

Nathan Florence delivers blood-pressure zooming POV angle at “biggest Lance’s Right we’ve surfed!”

"Wow, wow, wow, one of the best days of surfing we've ever had."

Surfer of the year Nathan Florence is like the fabled milkman of yore, never failing to deliver, morning, night, rain, snow, whatever, he’s there delivering his full cream treats which, for the just-turned thirty year old, are his bi-weekly video dispatches from around the globe. 

In this episode we find Nathan, whose face is permanently etched haggard by the decades of daily eight-hour surf sessions, in the Mentawai Islands, those pretty little islands halfway along the Sumatran coast, neither west nor east. As most surfers know, their proximity to the equator, one-and-half degrees off it in most places, means y’get, mostly, desultory winds and, in season, roaring south swells, coming all the way from the tip of South Africa.

Specifically, Nathan Florence is at the famous right-hander called Lance’s Rights, so-named after Yamba surfer Lance Knight who first rode the wave in 1991. It’s also called HT’s or Hollow Trees after a few dead trees that hung around the point there for a while.

The joint sure has changed since Lance’s time. Nathan Florence and his man-servant Zoard enjoy a villa that has a swimming pool and a concierge that serves three delicious meals every day.

In the promo literature accompanying his latest dispatch, Nathan Florence describes the session as the “biggest HTs we have ever surfed.” He is correct in that, yes, it really is big and Nathan, whose skills until recently had begun to overshadow his double world champion brother John John, makes it look like the easiest damn thing in the world.

Sit deep (up the point at the office, as they call it), wait til the whitewater fills the horizon, and get the marshmallow soft chip shot into the double-up. The footage Nathan captures, first from a Go-Pro held in his mouth and, later, from a camera mounted on the tail of his surfboard, will zoom anyone’s blood pressure.

A sort of outro in the edit, of regular surfers panicking on the precipice of the ledge or jumping for their lives just as the double-up readies to throw, demonstrates that this sure ain’t a wave for sissies.

“Wow, wow, wow, one of the best days of surfing we’ve ever had,” says Nathan Florence.


 Click to watch! 

Koa Rothman rediscovers vintage Indonesian surf spot and says, “That’s the craziest wave I’ve ever surfed!”

“That was one of the best days of surfing of my entire life.”

I remember for my twenty-first birthday gift, some years ago now, I was gifted a Bali-Lombok-Sumbawa boat trip from my parents, the journey taking in the then just-established route of Desert Point, Yo-Yos, Super Suck and Scar Reef.

Waves, of course, are as cyclical as the iron-on jeans now worn by the same packs of men who would’ve punched you in the head for dressing like a faggot ten years earlier and three of those four waves went out of vogue sometime in the nineties, disappearing from the pages of magazines and never making it to the online era.

An important case is the wave Super Suck, which winds into glorious Maluk Bay there in West Sumbawa. Forgotten by the surf media but not by the Indo regulars who stay in the pretty little camps in front of what is a relatively fickle wave and one best surfed on a fullish sorta tide.

The Hawaiian heartthrob and scion of North Shore strongman Fast Eddie, Koa Rothman, recently experienced the joy of Super Suck along with his old friend and former tour surfer Dean Morrison.

Rothman, who is thirty, has a golden-brown glazed handsomeness and, unlike most of the bigger name professional surfers, is sharp enough to ad lib his way through twenty-five minutes or so of his day-to-day life for his blog This is Livin’.

In this episode, Koa Rothman Super Suck deals with Super Suck with the same insouciance he shows Pipeline and where the pack, and it’s quite a pack, is fizzing back and forth, Koa calmly threads each section even as it gets quite hairy.

Koa Rothman describes Super Suck as the “craziest wave” he’s ever surfed and says his sessions there comprise “one of the best days of surfing of my entire life.”

The episode is let down, but only slightly, with Koa Rothman’s POV angle, our hero never quite getting deep enough to capture the stunning deep-in-the-hole angle as popularised by his neighbour Nathan Florence.

Still, essential.