Thirty is the New Twenty

When the 1999 title went to 33-year-old Mark Occhilupo—still cheerful and guileless despite all his years in the hole; one surf magazine noted that he was not only the oldest surfer on tour but the "most cuddly"—it was the rousing end to a comeback tale that had even the most jaded world-tour mavens snuffling back tears of joy.

Former world champion Wayne Bartholomew was named ASP president in 1999, and he helped steer the organization toward a half-realized goal called the “Dream Tour.” The idea was simple. Trim the tour schedule back. Drop the festival-style, beach-audience, “parking lot” contests. Hold events at A-grade breaks. Some of the goals were met. There had been as many as 25 men’s division events per season ...

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