"It was hard surfing against Stuey, especially in Round Two," said Connor O'Leary after his defeat of Stu Kennedy. "It was bound to happen at some stage, but of course it happened here in Brazil, when we are staying together."
The rookie counts Kennedy as both a good mate and mentor and believes Kennedy played a big part in his qualification last year. While based in Cronulla, O'Leary spends a significant chunk of his time off tour surfing with Kennedy's home break of Lennox Head, where O'Leary's girlfriend also lives. The two have also spent the last few years traveling together on the Qualifying Series (QS).
"His determination and his focus is what I'm trying to emulate," O'Leary said last year. "I'm fairly cruisy, can get easily sidetracked and not be as focused as I could be. When Stu's in an event, he just clicks into this focused, determined, animal."