Occy Sheds Dreads for Charity

Mark Occhilupo (AUS), 1999 ASP World Champion, is preparing to part ways with his beloved, long dreadlocks -- but all for a good cause.

During the Fuel TV Preview Show for the ASP Fiji Pro, Occy said that if Kelly Slater (USA) didn't win the event, he'd cut off all his hair. It was fairly safe bet: Not only had Slater won the Fiji Pro's four years running, but the 11-time ASP World Champ was so far winless for the 2014 season. He was looking likely to win one sooner or later.

Slater, however, was bungled out by Michel Bourez in the Quarterfinals and Occhilupo, true to his word, will be cutting off his hair live on the Fuel TV J-Bay Open Preview Show, Tuesday July 8th at 9:30.

The Aussie icon's currently running his signature event, Occy's Grom Comp at D'Bah, but picked up the phone to talk us through shedding his dreads.

What are you doing right now?
I'm on the sand at D'Bah watching Occy's Grom Comp. It's going really well -- the bank off the wall is good, it's mechanical and has been perfect for all the groms. This event has been going 11 years and it's become the one of the most prestigious grommet events to win. I'm proud to have my name on such a great event and see all the kids go out there have fun, that's what it's all about. Every year the level of surfing gets 50 percent better, the level is high and this year we had over 250 entries.

Occy 2002 Iconic Occy, tearing at J-Bay in 2002. - WSL / Tostee

We heard you lost a bet, tell us about it.
Yeah, I was on the Fuel TV Preview Show and we had our picks for Fiji and I said if Kelly doesn't win I'd cut my hair. Kelly lost in the Quarters and I lost my hair -- I nearly pulled my hair out watching it live on Fuel TV. It was funny I was watching it and Kelly made some uncharacteristic mistakes. He fell off when he normally wouldn't and then he changed boards from a quad to a thruster and I thought, 'there goes my hair.'

How long have you been growing your hair?
It's been about five years, a long time. I'm nervous about cutting it because I look so different, but it's gotta go and charity is a good reason. We're going to raise some money for Surfaid. I've been a supporter of them for over 10 years, the work they do in Indonesia and the Mentawais is fantastic.

I'll cut my hair live on the ASP Preview Show on Fuel TV Australia on Tuesday night at 9:30. The show is great, it's been so much fun. It's what I've always wanted to do. A lot of other sports have great commentary-style shows, and surfing deserves its own show, too.

Occy WSL

The next stop on the WCT is the J-Bay Open. You have a special relationship with with stop, can you tell us about it?
I can't wait to go back to J-Bay! I'll be commentating at this year's event. I was there for the event last year, the locals held a small event and I was the only non-South African to be invited. It was special. I have been going there for so long, and have so many friends that are so close, they are like family.

It's such a perfect wave for my backhand, sort of like Bells, it suits me perfectly. I live on the Gold Coast and my backhand is better than my forehand. J-Bay seems to suit me. I'll be getting in the water as much as I can when I'm over there.

Occy Same classic style, different year. Occy, circa 2005. - WSL / Karen

Last time you put a bet on J-Bay, it cost you your hair. Still, who's your pick to win the J-Bay Open?
If the waves are good it's going to be hard to go past Joel Parkinson. He's been surfing really good lately and seems pretty fired up. I've always liked watching his surfing at J-Bay.

I always like to support the goofies too, so my top pick for them is Gabriel Medina. He's in the lead on the rankings, I can't wait to see how he goes out there. He won at Snapper and has a really sharp backhand.