Mick Fanning On... The Best Surfing I Have Ever Seen: Occy

28 Jul 2014 4

Photo: Joli

Photo: Joli

Occy in the Skins event at Bells, 1997
By Mick Fanning

I was 15 years old and on my first surf trip with my then sponsor Quiksilver. The late, great Andrew Murphy took me down to watch The Rip Curl Pro at Bells. A few days after watching Matt Hoy’s epic win at the Pro the Skins event kicked off and we hung around to watch it.

Occy was ripping in the Pro and made the quarters but he went to a whole different place in firing waves in the Skins. To this day I’ve never seen someone dominate an event like Occy did the Skins. He didn’t have one dud heat. His surfing was so much faster and bigger than anyone else out there and all the top pros were in it, including Kelly. I definitely haven’t seen a backhand as strong at Bells since. Occ’s waves in the Skins would still be getting near-perfect scores in World Tour heats today and it was 17 years ago.

I think the thing that stood out to me was the transformation I’d seen in Occ. He had moved to the Gold Coast, so as a grom I’d watched him go from his lowest point where he was massively overweight and rarely surfed to an ultra psyched ball of muscle pumped to win events again. I knew he was good but I had no idea what he was really capable of until I saw him in that comp. It was incredible.

The Skins itself was a unique event where you only counted one wave in each round and that was all Occy ever needed. He got nines all day and ended up winning $55,000 and a new car.

One wave that stood out to me had this wild foam-climb transition. Occ had this magic 6’5” channel-bottom Dahlberg that seemed to do anything he wanted. He was caught deep on this one wave and probably could have bottom-turned around this big section but he just redirected, went vertical and projected a ridiculous distance to make it in front of the wave. He got that board to do some messed up things that day, he also used it the following year to win the Rip Curl Pro at Bells.

I think after that performance in the Skins and the win in 98 Occy really became synonymous with Bells, especially The Bowl. Like Kelly at Cloudbreak or Gerry at Pipe, you couldn’t think about Bells without thinking about Occ.

When he was on Tour if The Bowl was six-foot plus and you drew Occy you knew you were ruined. Even when Andy, who was regarded as one of the best at Bells, came up against Occy in a quarter-final back in 2006 in beautiful waves on The Bowl Occy totally destroyed him.

It’s a big question to be asked: What’s the best surfing you’ve ever seen? I knew my answer almost instantly. I’ve seen plenty of mind-blowing surfing in competition and outside of it. But watching Occy win the Skins from the cliff top on that clear, crisp, offshore day will always be one of the highlights of my life as a surfer.

From Surfing World Issue 351 – Buy it now

Tags: mick fanning , occy , surfing world , bells , jan juc (create Alert from these tags)

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