By Andrea Swayne
Patrick O’Connor, 11, of San Juan Capistrano is one of our area’s most versatile groms, having started surfing as a toddler. Whether ripping on a shortboard or performing stylish maneuvers on a longboard, Patrick’s talent for wave riding is apparent.
At the recent Western Surfing Association West Coast Championships, May 30 and 31 at Church Beach, he wowed the judges and spectators on both types of boards. Patrick was the winner of the Boys U14 Longboard division (the No. 3 ranked surfer for the season) and in Boys U12 Shortboard (ranked No. 7) he took first place in his Round 1 and Quarterfinal heats to advance to the semifinal where his campaign ended.
After a successful season in the Volcom Totally Crustaceous Tour this season—with first-, second- and third-place finishes—he will be competing in the upcoming Global Championships.
Patrick is in fifth grade at San Juan Elementary and works hard to keep his grades up although he admits school is not his favorite thing to do, as it pales in comparison to wave riding.
“School’s not my favorite but if I didn’t go I wouldn’t have as many friends as I do, so it’s worth it,” he said. “And I would like to go to college, so that makes me want to try harder in school.”
Not really looking to professional surfing as career, he instead has his heart set on becoming a surfboard shaper, a free surfer and WSA competitor for life and possibly taking over his dad’s private label surf apparel design company someday, “when he gets too old,” he said.
Patrick surfs every day and is hoping to be able to travel to Australia next year to compete in the Noosa Festival of Surfing. He has begun saving up the money it will take to get there—working, selling his used surfboards and looking at other fundraising methods.
Patrick would like to thank those supporting his surfing efforts: Jack’s Surfboards, Brink Surfboards, Dave Post, Ian Gottorn and his family.
When asked how he feels about his style being compared to that of pro surfer Taylor Knox, Patrick said he is flattered but that imitation is not what he is trying for.
“I don’t really try to have a style or surf like anyone,” Patrick said. “I just surf. I don’t try to look a certain way. I just go with it and whatever happens happens. My sister is cool about always telling me it doesn’t matter what other people think and not to try to copy someone’s style and just make my own.”