If you looked at the names of the 2017 Championship Tour rookies at the end of last year and wondered who in the hell Connor O'Leary was, you weren't alone. Despite having won the whole ‘QS — on the merit of a first-place finish in South Africa — over guys like Leo Fioravanti, Ethan Ewing, and Ezekiel Lau, Connor was still a relative unknown.
This year, that's all changed.
The 23-year-old half Irish, half Japanese goofyfoot from Cronulla, Australia, started the year with a 5th place finish at Snapper. He followed that up by making a final in Fiji, where he finished runner-up to Matt Wilkinson. And now, heading into Pipe, he's sitting at 14th in the rankings and is locked in a tight battle for Rookie Of The Year with Portugal's Frederico Morais. Essentially, whomever finishes higher in Hawaii will take the honor home.
But before a season finale at Pipeline was even a possibility, we've been at work on a profile film with Connor, titled "Non Fiction," which we're premiering in Hawaii on December 1st at SURFER The Bar and will release online shortly thereafter. The film, along with Connor's magazine feature, "The Anonymous Contender" (which hits newsstands next week), dives further into Connor's backstory and gives us an intimate look at his incredible climb in 2017, which saw him go from working at a surf shop and teaching surf lessons back in Cronulla to beating his heroes on surfing's biggest stage — in less than 12 months.
Check out a few frames from the film above, shot by Darcy Ward. If you're in Hawaii on December 1st, make sure to head to Turtle Bay on Oahu’s North Shore for the premiere.