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Sunday, April 4, 2010
Updated: April 5, 11:51 AM ET
Curren and Occhilupo Clash again


Easter Sunday, Day six of the waiting period for Rip Curl Pro at Bells Beach and the holiday crowd rolled into Bells. They were entertained by the final six heats of Round One, a Virgin Airlines Expression session, various Gromsearch finals, and the big one -- Mark Occhilupo vs Tom Curren -- had been billed as the "Clash of the Icons."

Curren playing some little mind games before the heat.

Round One highlights were tour rookies Pat Gudauskas and Dusty Payne notching up first rounds wins and avoiding the notorious equal 33rd result against their names. "It was slow out there," explained Payne later, "I started off pretty shaky then I got a couple of good ones towards the end of the heat, so I was lucky. I was thinking about my first two events on tour and I was like, 'I don't want to get 33rds against my name' so I've done that,' he said with a laugh.

Dusty Payne avoids the dreaded equal 33rd place finish

The highlight for the crowd was the match up between Mark Occhilupo and Tom Curren. The crowd was enthralled as the two veterans went wave for wave in the small Bells Bowl surf. The competitor's area was packed with guys from the Top 45 who were watching the action when some Aussie commented, "It's not very often you see a bunch of 20 year olds watching two 40 year olds surf."

Curren and Occy were nervous getting ready for their clash. It appeared Tom was playing some old fashion mind games when he touched and commented on Occy's fins before they shook hands for the surrounding cameras.

Mark Occhilupo partying like it's 1986.

Curren, surfing on his forehand, did better in the 3-foot surf than Occy on his backhand. The little pockets suited Curren jamming his classic forehand turns into little bowl sections. The heat ended with Occy trying to catch a wave with Curren so they could ride together to the beach. Not all went to plan as the pair wiped out and gave a much more entertaining "Clash of the Icons."

Damien Hardman and Pancho Sullivan have been meeting their contractual obligations to "Search."

When Meg, my back stage source, spoke with Curren after his heat later, the conversation went along these lines:

"How did you go?" asked Meg.
"At what?" replied Curren.
"Your heat," said Meg.
"Oh, I won," said Tom with a straight face.
"Oh. Congratulations," said Meg.
"Thanks," replied Curren.

Sometimes less is more. I guess that could be the sum of Curren's quotes for this event. I'm not sure if there will be another round in the "Clash of Icons" here at Bells. If not, then the record will stand Curren with 9 wins, Occy with 8. They may be over 45, but the competitive juices still flow when they pull on the contest singlets.

Curren slayed the little bowl sections on his forehand.

There is a 90% chance the contest will hit the road tomorrow. Contest director Damien Hardman went down to Johanna this afternoon checking the banks. His call will be 5:30. My bags are packed. It could be a quick "search" trip down south, watching out for the speed traps.