A Fantasy World

An interview with Chris Connolly, the 2014 Fantasy Surfer champ

Chris Connolly, the 2014 Fantasy Surfer champ, who's surf life seems to be pretty fantasy-like already.

Chris Connolly, the 2014 Fantasy Surfer champ, who’s surf life seems to be pretty fantasy-like already.

San Clemente’s Chris Connolly is a happy man, and for plenty good reason: the 49-year-old father of two recently took the 2014 Fantasy Surfer season win and earned himself an expense-paid trip to the Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore of Oahu for next winter’s Pipe Masters. We called up Chris to congratulate him and talk shop about that winning Fantasy Surfer strategy of his.

So first off, congrats on winning the overall Fantasy Season last year. Tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m 49, married with two daughters, and live in San Clemente. I've been surfing since I was a kid. I'm sort of retired, having left my job as a personnel manager in human resources for an engineering firm to take care of my kids. My wife is over-employed and travels just about every week for her business. Good schedule for daily surfs, but Indo-type trips are out since I take care of everything around here.

Can you walk me through your winning season?

For Fantasy Surfer, a few buddies and I have a club and each contest the losers buy the winner beer. My buddies got really tired of buying me beer this year. I wasn’t really thinking about the big prize until I learned that I was in seventh place overall. I was stoked with that, but didn’t think too much of my chances of gaining 90 points over the leader during the Pipe Masters.

Tell me about your strategy.

I didn’t get too caught up in my team for Pipe, thinking my chances were slim and not wanting to get my hopes up. Although one good move I did was to drop Jordy to pick up Kai Otton and a slumping Julian Wilson. I hated to drop Jordy since I had got him relatively cheap and rode his value up a few million through a lot of good results, but it worked out well. I also added Slater and Jeremy Flores. That really didn’t help, because apparently so did a lot of other people. I had good luck last year picking good surfers relatively underpriced and sticking with them as their value increased, guys who I thought could perform at any venue.

What was it like to find out that you'd won?

After the event I was stoked to hear that I had won beer from my buddies, but didn’t think I had a chance at the big prize. I went to the website early the next morning to see how it ended up, only to find out I had taken over first place. I was so stoked, I was jumping out of my skin but didn’t want to wake my family because I was planning to run down to the local beachbreak for a quick surf and to be back by the time everyone woke up. I did, the surf was minor but fun, especially because of how stoked I was. When everyone woke up and I told them that I’d won, they started to badger me about who I would take. My oldest daughter is a senior at San Clemente High School and surfs on the team there and was quick to point out that nobody else in the family would appreciate the North Shore and be a proper “wingman” like she would. Everyone had a good reason they should be the one to go, but I'll probably find a way to take the whole family.

You have a game plan in mind for Snapper?

No, I don't have a strategy yet for Snapper, but I'm going to look at that soon. I'm looking forward to the Tour starting up again. Lots of people I surf with aren’t huge fans and avoid the hype. I also see people bagging on the commentators or judges, or whatever. And while Pat Parnell annoys me, I really enjoy watching the webcasts and think the ASP or WSL or whatever is doing a great job with the Tour. I appreciate the improvements they've made.

Snapper starts Feb. 28. Sign up and pick your team now at FantasySurfer.com.

Connolly, off the top at home in Orange County, training for next year's trip to HI.

Connolly, off the top at home in Orange County, training for next year’s trip to Hawaii.