With swell on the way, organizers opted to call a lay-day this morning, allowing surfers to utilize the one metre (3ft) clean conditions of Sultan’s Point for a warm-up session.
The surfing icons will get to relive their legendary rivalries of the eighties and nineties in perfect reef break waves. The tournament will be staged from a luxurious 39 metre three -decked catamaran, Four Seasons Explorer, and run by the Tropicsurf event crew.
Defending champion Occhilupo, 46, last year enjoyed a clean sweep of all three divisions with wins in the Single Fin (1970’s), Twin Fin (70’s and ‘80’s) and Thruster (80’s onwards). Occy, then went onto claim the Grand Champions Final and win $19000 of the overall $25000 prize money.
The 1999 world champion is just as serious this year, but also aware that the competition will be much harder. Long time rival and three-time world champion Curren, 48, and 1989 world champion Potter, 46 are included in the 2012 line-up along with the always dangerous Hardman and talented dark horse Rajzman.
“It’s a pretty relaxed atmosphere here this morning but I know once we get on that boat and face each other, it’s going to get serious,” said Occhilupo over breakfast.
“There are no weak links in this year's line-up,” added Occhilupo.
Occhilupo also admitted travelling with his son Jay, 9, was an added incentive.
“It’s great to have Jay here, he can’t wait to get out there and have a surf,”
“He is my super caddy, he has caddied for me at Teahupoo and now he is going to do it in the Maldives. "
“Every dad wants to do well in front of their son,” added Occhilupo.
Lone female competitor and 2005 world champion Chelsea Hedges (Aus) was forced to withdraw after incurring a serious injury while training on the Gold Coast for the invitational event. Hedges’ was hospitalized after a free diving training accident caused her lung to collapse.
“ I can’t believe it, it’s such bad luck,” said Hedges.
Occhilupo was also disappointed for Hedges.
“We all feel for Chelsea right now, she would have given us all a run here. I just hope she gets better quickly and is back in the water soon,” added Occhilupo.
Event Coordinator Mark Winson also acknowledges that this year's event has upped the ante with the depth of talent in the 2012 line-up.
“The Maldives is in for a sensational week of surfing action.”
“The competitive clashes these surfers have had are infamous and they are still all driven to win,” said Winson.
Tropicsurf organizers will reassess conditions again tomorrow morning for an official call at 7am local time.
Television News Feeds and Images will be made available on competition days.
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