l o ck i e o'connor
Not all groms have their sights set on being the next World Champ, many out there fall in love and participate in surfing through the sheer thrill and love for the sport and the places that chasing waves can take you. While 16 year old Mt Maunganui local, Lockie O’Connor has grown up under the influence of his successful older brother, being inspired by him and at the same time nurtured into the sport by him. Lockie is under no illusion that a pro-career is his destiny, instead he just lives and loves each and every new swell for what it offers, good times!
School? Mount Maunganui College Tell us about your first surfing experience? My first surfing experience is definitely one I still remember walking down to Tay St beach with mum, dad, and Tim. I was a little grommet, four years old sitting in the sand building castles, doing what a causal grom does, eat a little bit of sand. Tim and dad had been surfing when my father asked me if I wanted to give it a go. Of course I was stoking, so he grabbed his board and we were off down to the water. Believe it or not I stood up first go, which was pretty epic and just set off from there on!
You’ve grown up under the wing of your older brother Tim O’Connor who has represented NZ and gone all around the world with his surfing. Has he encouraged and inspired you to pick up the board and chase your dreams, or did he just give you from beatings and drop in on you?
I’m definitely lucky to have a brother like Tim for sure, he supports my surfing and encourages me a lot. Like this one time we were at Lakeys, it was a solid 6 foot and he dragged me out of bed and forced me to get out there, even waxed my board for me! Which encouraged me a lot, as much as I didn’t want to go out. He has inspired me so much. I wasn’t really into surfing that much, but looking from his perspective has changed the way I look at surfing for sure, but there are those times I get the beat downs as a grom, being cheeky thinking he won’t mind if I drop in on him, but I've learnt not to haha.
You’ve spent a bit of time overseas on exchange how was the experience of another culture and language?
I went on a student exchange in 2015 to South America (Chile) for 7 months; the experience of another culture and language was a big change compared to New Zealand. Their lifestyle over there is so much different to us. I picked up on the language pretty fast, and you definitely get frustrated at times because they talk so fast but apart from that it was so sick. I was lucky that my exchange student who I was staying with at the time and who came back with me to New Zealand surfed which was pretty sick because we went on surf trips to places that no one even knew about; we went away down south to this sick as left hander for a week by ourselves and scored hell waves that opened my eyes and makes me want to travel more just knowing that there could be surf breaks out there that no one knows about !!
Tell us about the local surf conditions?
Local surf conditions in Mount Maunganui have been sad lately, it’s been pretty much flat for a couple of months straight with the odd swell here and there, but nothing fantastic. But when there are waves my favourite breaks are Hart St and the Island for sure!!
The best waves you've ever scored on your local coastline?
3-4 foot peak straight out Tay St. Woke up at 6AM, which was probably the best decision of my life because I had it all to myself for a solid hour which I was stoked as with, then surfed all day from there onwards!
Who has been the best visiting surfer you have seen at your local breaks?
Definitely Creed McTaggart and the Billabong crew, some of the most insane airs and barrel riding I’ve seen in person for sure. They just make things look so easy.
What else do you get up to when not surfing?
When I’m not surfing I’m usually skating with my mates at the local mini ramp. Other than that homework and X-Box haha.
Who do you surf with most?
I usually surf just with the local groms mostly with Jacob Warnes, Georgia Wederell, and Andrew Fraser- McKenzie but other than that I’ll just go surf where ever looks good.
What does surfing mean to you?
Surfing is something that I’m passionate about, I see it as more than a hobby! I will go surfing whenever there are waves, because I just find it so much fun, and will surf for hours. It’s a lifestyle for me and if I could surf for a job I would definitely do it.
Where would you like to take your surfing?
Where would I like to take my surfing? At this stage I don’t know! I’m just going to do the national surf comps and see where I end up. I prefer free surfing and trying new things but comps are good to enter and have a shot at things, learn and improve as a surfer.
Life's highlights? Starting to surf is probably one of the best things I’ve ever decided to do. Just remembering my first wave is a big highlight for me and looking back on that now thinking how much I’ve improved is pretty sick.
Your favourite NZ waves and why?
The Island over anything in perfect conditions because it’s just such a hollow wave to surf. Also you get good hiding’s here and there which is a bit of fun.
My favourite surfer from New Zealand would probably be my brother! Looking at the way he surfs just makes me want to be like him. Overseas- hands down Clay Marzo does the most ridiculous turns and laybacks, which always makes me wonder how he lands them.
The biggest wave you've ever surfed?
Biggest wave I've surfed is 8 foot and it was shorey at a beach in Chile called Renaca which makes it even more scary.
Your dream surf trip?
My dream surf trip would be with my brother with a perfect left and right hand peak somewhere in America, and surf it all to ourselves. That would be so dope!
Shout outs to your biggest supporters:
Big shout out to the old man who supports me all the time, same with mum and Tim for being there every time I surf in comps and giving me advice, chur!!
Lockie pushed his surfing to new levels during his trip to Lakey Peak. Banging one vert on the backhand at Periscopes.