- WSL / Tom Bennett
- WSL / Tom Bennett

The stage is set for the 2019 So Sri Lanka Pro WSL Qualifying Series (QS) 3000 event which will commence tomorrow morning at Arugam Bay, Sri Lanka.

Arugam Bay Line Up The morning Arugam Bay Lineup in all her glory. - WSL / Tom Bennett

With 3000 QS points up for grab for competitors aiming to qualify for the elite WSL Championship Tour, the event has attracted over 100 competitors from more than 25 countries. The forecast is looking promising with great surf expected at the super long, right-hand point break of Arugam Bay. WSL Asia Contest Director Steve Robertson is thrilled that WSL has made it back to this idyllic location for the first time in almost a decade.

"WSL is really excited to be back in Sri Lanka at the beautiful Arugam Bay," Robertson said. "This is an amazing location for an event of this size and that has reflected in the overwhelming number of entrants we've had from so many countries around the world -- it's truly a testament to what this place offers for travelling surfers. The swell has arrived over the last few days and looks like hanging around for the duration of the five day event meaning the action should be non-stop until we crown a winner at week's end."

A-Bay The place affectionately known as 'A-Bay.' - WSL / Tom Bennett

The event will not only play host to a massive field of international QS competitors but also a former World Champion and Surfing Icon in Mark 'Occy' Occhilupo. Occy is set to make his first trip to Sri Lanka for the event that begins next week, but it won't all be about competition.

"When I was growing up a lot of my older mates would head to Sri Lanka for a few months every year and talked so highly of the waves and the experience they had there, but for some reason I've never made it, but I'm really excited to check it out," Occhilupo said. "It will be cool to compete again, but it's really all about meeting with some of the surf clubs in the area and the local surf crew and just hanging out and telling them my story and all about being a professional surfer. I've heard there is a flourishing surf scene in Sri Lanka and I can't wait to hang with some of the locals."

Mark Occhilupo  with local Sri Lankan surfers at the So Sri Lanka Pro QS3,000 Mark Occhilupo with the Sri Lankan surf team. - WSL / Tom Bennett

Although it's been almost 15 years since Occhilupo retired from full-time competition, he is fit and focussed and surfing as good as ever. The powerful goofy-footer showed this earlier this year when he dominated lifelong rival Tom Curren in a 'Heritage Heat' at Bells Beach. If the long right-handers of Arugam Bay turn on for competition, the younger QS competitors better watch out for the man also known as ‘The Raging Bull.'

"I'm really excited to get those competitive juices flowing again -- I've been surfing a lot and training hard so I'm feeling great at the moment, not to mention it's a right hand point which is good for me. I'm definitely looking forward to it. I just hope we get some great waves -- then I'll really be taking it seriously."

The 1999 World Champ leans into his J-Bay muse. Occy's iconic backhand will fit in well in Sri Lanka. - WSL

"It's going to be cool competing with and watching all of the young QS guys in action. I've been keeping a close eye on the events in Europe, the US and Nias and it's cool to see all of the great young talent on the QS, it will definitely test me."

The So Sri Lanka Pro 2019 Men's QS3,000 will run from September 25-29.

The So Sri Lanka Pro 2019 is supported by Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Jeep, SriLankan Airlines, Dialogue Telecommunications, LSR, Surfing Federation of Sri Lanka.

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