It's been 35 years since Mark Occhilupo exploded onto the World Tour scene, and time has hardly diminished the Raging Bull's prowess and power.
Pulling on a QS jersey for the first time in six years, the '99 World Champ showed up at Arugam Bay for the So Sri Lanka Pro and delighted fans and competitors alike.
"It's been such a great week and really busy -- I've done so much, from visiting a safari park to visiting local villages and surfing with the locals," Occhilupo said. "I even had a surf class with some Muslim women the other day, which was amazing."
"It's been an incredible experience all round," he continued. "I'm stoked I came to Sri Lanka, the waves are so fun and the people are so warm and welcoming it's a beautiful country."
Once he hit the water, Occy snapped right back into competition mode, hunting waves up and down the point and ripping in with his trademark top-to-bottom backhand surfing.
In Round 3, Occy faced a slew of hungry competitors. Peru's Gabriel Villaran took the win, while America's Skip McCullough took second, knocking the Australian legend out of the comp.
"I had so much fun out there," Occy said. "To pull on a competition jersey for the first time in a long time felt good. We were all having a lot of fun out there talking and laughing which was cool."
"I'm disappointed I didn't make it through my heat, but the waves today were tough," he explained. "It was smaller and a bit bumpy on the face, but it's all good because I had so much fun."
Ever the class-act, Occy will now enjoy watching the rest of the So Sri Lanka Pro as the Quarterfinalists have been decided and this thing's about to wrap up.
There is a ton of international talent still in the draw, including Mitch Parkinson. Mitch's cousin, Joel Parkinson, was one of Occy's traveling partners when they were on tour together and remain best mates. It's safe to say we know who Occy will be cheering for.
Tune in tomorrow at the 2019 So Sri Lanka Pro crowns a winner.