Mark Occhilupo, the 1999 ASP World Champ returned to the surfing world yesterday, as a wildcard in the ASP WQS 6-Star PRIME Drug Aware Pro. Surf was hitting up 1.5 metres at Margaret River, as Occhilupo was joined by fellow tour veteran Jake Paterson of WA. Paterson didn’t quite live up to expectations, and in fact had a bit of a blooper, notching up a lowly 4 points, poor old chap. For all the details, go below the photo

MARGARET RIVER, Australia (Thursday, April 2, 2009) - One of surfing’s great champions, Mark Occhilupo, put the ASP competitive rash vest back on today and took his place as a wildcard in the ASP World Qualifying Series (WQS) 6-Star PRIME Drug Aware Pro in good 1.5m (4feet) surf at Margaret River.

The 43-year-old former ASP World Champion (1999) has an affinity with Margaret River having won this event twice, the first time very early in his esteemed career at 19 way back in 1985 and the second time in the twighlight years as a 40-year-old in 2006.

Occhilupo scored a reasonable 6.00 ride mid-heat and only required a 4.9 to progress but in the end, he placed 3rd on a two wave heat tally of 10.65 behind rising stars Tanner Gudauskas (USA) on 14.25 and Dion Atkinson (10.95/AUS).

“I love it here and the organizers always invite me back and it’s just a great place," Occhilupo said. “The disappointment at losing is still in my tem. I really thought I had a chance of progressing through that heat and I was in full competitive mode out there today – I doubt that competitive mode will ever leave the tem but now I am knocked out, I’ll enjoy my time at the event and relax with my family here – the disappointment will ease away!"

Fellow ASP World Dream Tour veteran and local surfing idol Jake Paterson (Yallingup /WA) joined Occhilupo as an eliminated wildcard today. Paterson had a shocker of a heat, scoring just 4 points while Leonardo Neves (Brazil) posted the morning’s top scoring heat with an excellent 16-point tally and Aritz Aranburu (Spain) in 2nd on 15.45.

Other impressive heat winners today included local West Australian surfers Jay Davies (Yallingup) and Luke Campbell (Trigg Point/Perth). Davies is looking particularly ominous and scored the day’s top scoring ride with an outstanding 9.33.

With much larger waves fore for tomorrow’s Round 3, Davies is looking forward to the challenges ahead.

“Bring on the bigger waves for me," Davies said. “It’s definitely my best chance to do well here. I know the wave well, especially when it starts to max out size wise and tomorrow should be fun."

Queensland’s Luke Munro showed a return to form, winning his Round 2 heat today comfortably defeating USA surfer Brad Ettinger with Nathan Hedge (AUS) and T.J. Barron (HAW) eliminated in third and fourth.

Munro won the heat with wave scores of 7.4 and 6.2 for a combined tally of 13.6, well ahead of Ettinger on 10.9.

Victoria’s Nic Muscroft and Spain’s Hodei Collazo were both strong Round 2 heat winners.

Late in the day, the Round of 24 for the Drug Aware Women’s surfed in windy conditions.

Carissa Moore (Hawaii) was again dominant, easily winning her heat on a score line of 15.60 to Claire Bevilacqua (AUS/WA/City Beach), who also advanced in 2nd place on 10.60.

Sofia Mulanovich (Peru), the 2004 ASP Women’s World Champion, was also impressivem winning her heat ahead of Claudia Conclaves (BRA).

The biggest upset occurred in Heat 3 of the Drug Aware Women’s when local girls Melanie Redman–Carr (Dunsborough) and young Laura Macaulay (16 years/Gracetown/WA) placed first and second respectively to advance, defeating ASP World Dream Tour surfer Alana Blancard (Hawaii).

Shortly after Blancard’s elimination, Jessi Miley-Dyer (AUS), another ASP World Tour member, was also eliminated when she placed third in her heat behind Amee Donohoe (AUS) and Paige Hareb (NZ).