MARK Occhilupo said a ‘‘competitive itch’’ was behind the 46-year-old’s desire to enter this year’s Surfest.
The former world surfing champion and two-time Mark Richards trophy-winner was announced today as an entrant in the six-star men’s pro which begins on February 18.
The goofy-footer last competed at Merewether in 2010 where he was eliminated in his first heat.
‘‘Please don’t call it a comeback - it’s just me scratching a competitive itch that still burns and I know I can still perform at a high level,’’ the man known as ‘‘Occy’’ said.
‘‘I’m the first to admit my fitness has got a way to go, but I am putting the work in and I’m surfing well.
‘‘I surfed a lot of big waves in the Hawaiian season and I’ve dropped a few kilos over the past month.’’
Despite his age, Occhilupo is still competitive in big waves and has returned to the Association of Surfing Professional’s world top 100 rankings at 68th, following third place at Margaret River and ninth at Trestles in California last year.