NewsConnor O'Leary

Stuart Kennedy's Even Keel

Coming Late to the CT Party
"The maturity you have is the biggest advantage. Being older and wiser means you're not really threatened by the bigger boys, so I felt pretty comfortable going straight on to the CT. Also I don't get caught up with the results. I've managed to keep calm because it's not over till the last hooter at Pipe. Five years ago I wouldn't have had that headspace. I would have thought a few bad results was the end of it all. I think the younger guys can get in that headspace and can panic. I fear Ethan might be doing that now, but there's no need because it's such a long road ahead. Danny Wills once told me that as soon as you turn 25 the results keep coming and that's been the case with me."

Stu Kennedy of Australia advanced into Round Three in Heat 9 of Round Two at the Outerknown Fiji Pro at Cloudbreak, Fiji. Playing with the big boys at Cloudbreak. WSL / Ed Sloane

Finding A Happy Medium
"Having a good balance too and knowing when it's switch on time and when to switch off is key for me. There's no harm in having a beer if you feel like one. You can put too much effort in then sometimes feel it doesn't pay off. I feel I've gone through the whole cycle of doing it every which way and I've learned you just have to do what makes you happy. Find that happy medium. On the QS I once did six months without a drop of alcohol. I was getting a few results but I wasn't enjoying myself, so I wasn't happy. I was shutting down social occasions and in the end I was turning into something I'm not."

Stu Kennedy of Australia finished equal 25th after placing second in Heat 9 of Round Two of the Oi Rio Pro at Saquarema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Switching on. WSL / Daniel Smorigo

The Sophomore Year
"I think in the second year you can definitely fly under the radar more, which I like. I mean last year I started at the Goldy with a result and the whole board thing just blew up and at one stage I just wanted to go home and hide in my house and shut everything down. For me it was too much attention too soon. This year it's calmed down."

Design
"I just like different equipment and trying to work out what works best in certain conditions. But after last year on the CT I have gone back to a bit more to regular shapes and am trying keep it simple. I think last year I pushed the Sci-Fi in certain spots that I didn't need too. My boards were fine for the QS and pointbreaks, but it became apparent that I needed to do more work in the powerful beaches and places like Fiji and Chopes. I learned a lot last year, made adjustments and now have the new SKX model. It's a much better all-rounder. I'm stoked."

Stu Kennedy and Sebastian Zietz at the Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast. Unorthodox, but damn effective. WSL / Steve Sherman

Going Backside
"I feel like my backhand is my strongest point really, even if not many people have seen it. Maybe my surfing at Cloudbreak surprised a few people. I grew up at South Ballina and mostly surfed South Wall which is a powerful left. That has molded my technique."

Stu Kennedy of Australia advanced into Round Three in Heat 9 of Round Two at the Outerknown Fiji Pro at Cloudbreak, Fiji. On rail on his backhand in Fiji. WSL / Ed Sloane

Self-Coaching
"At some events I bounce off Andy King and train with him at the High Performance Centre near home. However, I prefer to self-analyze. If you can keep your eye on the conditions before all your heats that's most of the battle. Coaches are also expensive and I've got other things to spend my money on, like my family. Also, the other surfers are great. With Bede and Kerrzy we bounce ideas around and I've picked Luke Egan's brain a bit as he's working with Connor, so it all works out."

On Connor O'Leary Being A Contender
"I wasn't surprised by Connor making the Final in Fiji, especially at the size it was. We'd done a strike mission before the event, which helped, and he had Luke Egan picking apart the lineup for him. His technique is great and I feel like he'll have a Title run next year, if not the one after. He's just got that really solid base and sharpness. Maybe the only thing he could improve on is his landing ratios on his airs. He's so humble, and even if he went off the rails, I'd be there to pull him into line. He's a real talent."

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