That KP sure did have a knack for the tube. Photo: Russell Ord
Kieren Perrow Steps Down As WSL Commissioner; Pat O'Connell Takes The Reins
O'Connell's official title will be SVP, Tours & Head of Competition.
Huge news from the WSL.
After five years as the ASP/WSL Commissioner, Kieren Perrow is stepping down from his role as the master-conductor of Championship Tour events.
"I've been a part of professional surfing my entire life, and I never imagined it would get to the level it’s at today,” Perrow said. “To be able to live out my dream on tour as a competitor, while also being a surfer rep and board member, was a massive high point in my career. However, getting to transition into my role as Commissioner and foster new talent and development pathways for surfers, has been even more rewarding. I'm really proud of my team and the WSL for all we have achieved together. With the role now needing to be based in Los Angeles, I’m taking this opportunity to step down and spend more time in Australia with my family, while continuing to be a part of professional surfing in a more focused capacity."
And who can blame him? Family is everything, Australia is God's Country, and LA is, well...
It should be noted that Kieren was as good of a Commissioner as there really can be. In competitive surfing there are too many variables to ever achieve perfection, meaning that "blown calls" and "bad decisions" are inevitable. However, as fierce spectators of professional surfing over the past five years, we can claim with confidence that KP did the hell out of his job and should be proud of all the time he's served.
Taking up Perrow's role – which has been rebranded from "Commissioner" to "SVP, Tours & Head of Competition" – will be none other than Mr. Pat O'Connell.
O'Connell gained fame in the mid-90's as a co-star in Bruce Brown's Endless Summer II, where he and his longboarding companion Robert 'Wingnut' Weaver traveled all over the world in search of perfect waves, from Costa Rica to Australia, Fiji and beyond.
O'Connell later joined the World Tour, his best finish being 11th overall in 1998. After retiring from the Tour, O'Connell started his "non-surfing" career on Hurley's marketing team, where he's spent the last decade and a half working alongside the world's best waveriders, from John Florence to Carissa Moore and beyond. He's a regular at CT events and knows all the movers and shakers in the biz.
Perhaps most importantly, O'Connell hasn't lost any of that youthful energy we came to know and love in Endless Summer II. This December in Hawaii, the Stab team caught Patchy spending many a morning out at V-Land, regardless of the conditions on hand.
Wind, rain, or completely insane, Pat was out there and paddling for any wave that came his way. "At least it's a good workout!" he proclaimed on one particularly ugly morning.
It's this crystalized sense of stoke that will allow O'Connell to be such an effective WSL leader.
"Words can't describe the amount of respect I have for the WSL, Kieren and his team,” O’Connell said in the WSL presser. “From competitor to surfer rep to board member to commissioner, he really has given his all for surfing to get it to where it is today and I couldn't be more thankful. It’s super hard to leave my family at Hurley as it’s been such a huge part of my life for more than 15 years. I’ve had an incredible experience at Hurley, but I'm beyond excited for the opportunity to lead the competitive aspects of surfing and further elevate the sport. I believe in the WSL, I believe in what it can be, and I'm stoked."
O’Connell will officially begin his role on March 11, overseeing the development of all of the WSL’s tours - Championship Tour, Qualifying Series, Pro Junior Series, Big Wave Tour, Longboard Tour and Specialty Events and Series.
“Kieren’s leadership over the past six years has significantly contributed to the success and improvements across the sport, and we’re very pleased that he will continue to work with us in a new capacity,” Sophie Goldschmidt, WSL CEO, said. “I am delighted that Pat O’Connell has agreed to join the WSL to fill KP’s shoes. He has held a number of diverse roles within surfing, both as a competitor and on the business side, and his passion for the sport is infectious. He will have the support of an incredible team at a time when momentum is building across all surfing disciplines and taking the sport to new levels.”
While we can't help but mourn the loss of the level-headed, tube-hounding KP, we also see incredible value in Pat O'Connell and believe he can continue to provide A-grade entertainment in 2019.
So what if he needs a booster seat to spot sets?