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23.09.05 - OCCY AND THE BOYS IN GUERNSEY.

Guernsey
The gathering at L'Eree. Picture Simon Alexander.

Former world surfing champion Mark Occhilupo spent a rest day in Guernsey ahead of the Quiksilver Pro France.

Occy, who won the ASP title in 1999, was joined by fellow World Championship Tour stars Jake Paterson, Richie Lovett and Tom Whittaker.

The Australian quartet stopped over in Guernsey on route to Hossegor from their last event in California.

As well as playing golf, they signed autographs for local surfers at a special gathering at L'Eree.

Guernsey
Jake Paterson, left, and Tom Whittaker, sign a Children In Need t-shirt.

The four were guests of businessman Greville Mitchell, described by one well-respected Australian journalist as "pro surfing's guardian angel."

Nine years ago, he donated more than £100,000 to the ASP for a travelling medical team before forming the Mitchell Surfing Foundation, which hands out cash prizes for special awards like Rookie of the Year.

Occhilupo, who is forty next year, has built up a world-wide reputation for his power surfing, especially his under-the-lip snaps.
A keen golfer, he was in Guernsey with his wife Mae and young son Jay:

"This is just such a great place to stop off and it's been really relaxing," he told BBC Guernsey.

"I'm really looking forward to competing in France because the waves get so good, and taking time out here to play a bit of golf and relax is just perfect."

Guernsey
Greville Mitchell, left, and Tom Whittaker sign posters.

Richie Lovett, from Melbourne, has also been on the WCT circuit for more than a decade. He is seven places about Occhilupo in the rankings and still relishes the contest scene.

"I'm just so lucky to be on the tour and get to surf the best waves in the world. I also enjoy going home to Melbourne to be with my family so I've really got the best of both world's

"The surf in California was pretty good in the end, but I'm keen to score some good waves in France. We're staying right in the heart of Hossegor, so we're right where the action is."

Among those attending the gathering in Guernsey were Rob Ozanne, Johnny Walbridge, Kevin Hinshaw, Nathan Browning, Jody Warren, and Kev and Jacob Warr.