Oceanside Surfing Comes Down to One Wave for Curren, Botha

With just one, glistening, sun-sparkled wave Sunday, Tom Curren showed why he has been the Assn. of Surfing Professionals world champion the last two years.

Curren showed he is a master strategist, capable of putting himself in position to score the points necessary to win heats.

But on this one near-perfect, left-breaking wave, Curren showed the skill that makes him the awe of surfing pros and fans.

Curren used this ride to defeat Mark Occhilupo of Australia and win his second straight Stubbies Pro surfing tournament at Oceanside Pier. Curren won $5,000. But it was the last wave that the nearly 10,000 fans will remember.

With 4 1/2 minutes left in the 45-minute final heat, Curren had taken what appeared to be six scoring waves while Occhilupo had fallen three times on good waves and taken only four scoring waves. The waves had been sporadic: sometimes there were 4- or 5-foot waves, other times, it was flat.

Curren took a chance that a big wave would not come in and rounded the priority buoy, giving him his choice of waves and forcing Occhilupo to settle for his leftovers.

Curren waited for a 5-foot set to come along. He took off left. He performed two huge cutback-turns before the wave turned to white water. The crowd hooted.

Curren was awarded 28.5 out of a possible 30 points from the three judges on that wave.

He received 124.7 out of 150 possible points for his five waves. Occhilupo had 113.3 points.

The women's final between Wendy Botha and Tricia Gill also came down to a single wave.

Gill, of Newport Beach, had been surfing well, but tried a difficult, high-scoring maneuver and fell on her seventh wave.

Botha, of South Africa, ended up winning the Michelob Cup, 111.3-109.7. Botha won $2,000 and took the lead in the women's standings because the event was the first of the season. Gill won $1,250 for second place.

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