At Home With NSW’s Pro Surfers

30 January 2018

The World Surf League caught up with some of NSW’s top talent during their home break in NSW. Now they’re high in the big leagues, Connor O’Leary, Ace Buchan and Matt Wilkinson talk about the beaches they grew up on and reflect on what makes surfing in NSW so special.

Connor O’Leary

Nickname: n/a

DOB: 10 December 1993

From: Cronulla, NSW

Favourite wave: Mystics Beach & Voodoo, NSW


2012 Murasaki Quiksilver Jeju Open (winner)

2013 GoPro Junior Games (winner)

2016 Ballito Pro (winner)

2017 Fiji Pro (runner-up)

About Cronulla:

cronulla beach

Roughly a one-hour train ride south from Central station, Cronulla is one of Sydney’s favourite beaches. Popular with both locals and tourists, Cronulla is the only Sydney beach to be patrolled by lifeguards throughout the year, including during winter. The beach curves along 200 metres of the southern end of Bate Bay, and typically enjoys a continuous attached bar of waves lowered to about one metre in height. Rips are more prevalent against the northern rocks, while the southern end features a number of reef breaks, including the world-famous Cronulla Point and Shark Island. With good variety and consistent surf at all stages of the tide, Cronulla is one of Sydney’s most dependable surfing spots.

Connor says:

“It’s a nice distance away from the Sydney city. It still has that city-beach kind of vibe. I think NSW has got the most options of beaches in the whole of Australia. From pretty much Cronulla down south, there’s countless amounts of reef breaks and slabs with not too many people out. You go to places like Wollongong or Ulladulla, and down there it’s a bit colder, a bit more rural… if you’re a surfer, you get the best waves of your life down there. I’m really thankful that I’ve grown up [here] and got to surf the waves that Cronulla has on offer.”

See Connor O’Leary in action at the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro, or find more NSW surf events here

Adrian Buchan

Nickname: Ace

DOB: 21 September 1982

From: Avoca Beach, NSW

Favourite wave: Avoca Point, NSW


1997 World Grommet Junior Champion

1999 World Grommet Junior Champion

2000 Australasian Pro Junior Champion

2001 Australasian Pro Junior Champion

2008 Quiksilver Pro France (winner)

2013 Billabong Pro Teahupoo (winner)

About Avoca Beach:

Avoca Beach, Central Coast

Nestled on the NSW Central Coast, Avoca Beach boasts 1.7 kilometres of golden sand framed on both sides by sandstone headlands. Known for its thriving surf culture and friendly atmosphere, Avoca Beach is a popular holiday destination among families and surfers alike. Avoca’s landscape and conditions make it a great spot for both novice and experienced surfers; average waves sit around 1.5 metres in height, with higher waves found towards the centre and the northern end of the beach. The beach is also home to the popular Avoca Point break – a short but sweet ride featuring swells of up to 3 metres.

Ace says:

“Surfing is part of the fabric of the community there; we’ve had guys on the world tour since the 1970s. It gets as good as any beach I’ve surfed, on its day, and the beach is just really consistent. Just a pretty cool little beachside community; everyone kind of knows each other, and whenever you paddle out there’s familiar faces. For me, it’s been the perfect place to grow up. We are definitely proud New South Welshmen. It’s a beautiful state—I feel very lucky to have been born and raised there. I travel the world—and I guess you make a home everywhere you go—but that’ll always be where my heart is.”

Head to Avoca Beach to watch the professionals catch a wave at the Vissla Central Coast Pro Presented by Slimes, or find more surfing showcases here

Matt Wilkinson

Nickname: Wilko

DOB: 29 September 1988

From: Copacabana, NSW

Training ground: Byron Bay, NSW

Favourite wave: Broken Head, NSW


2016 Quicksilver Gold Coast Pro (winner)

2016 Ripcurl Bells Beach Pro (winner)

2017 Fiji Pro (winner)

About Byron Bay:

Main Beach, Byron Bay

Byron Bay is one of Australia’s most famous coastal towns. With a relaxed atmosphere that seems to radiate from its beautiful beaches, many visitors to Byron Bay soon find themselves learning to surf here. Highlights include The Wreck, a favourite spot among locals known for nice, hollow waves which result from a shipwreck located just offshore. Just in front of the Cape Byron Lighthouse, waves refract around the headland and run at right angles to produce the world-class tubing right-handers for which The Pass is renowned. With these beaches and many more to explore, Byron Bay is one of NSW’s most loved gems.

Matt says:

“I think Byron’s got a pretty awesome little energy about it. It’s got every kind of person – people that love surfing and love living life. Picture waking up in the morning and it’s a sunny, beautiful day, and I run down the beach with the dogs… it’s a pretty dreamy lifestyle. You head 10 minutes north or 10 minutes south to wherever you want to surf, and winter’s not too cold and summer’s pretty perfect… it’s a pretty hard lifestyle to beat. Everyone seems to be a lot more mellow here than anywhere else you go, so it’s a really cool vibe.”

See Matt doing what he does best at Surfest Newcastle or find more surf events here.


Visit the beautiful NSW coastline for incredible surf and blockbuster pro-surfing events. Hit the road for a surf-inspired holiday around NSW’s Summer of Surfing calendar and experience the best action from the balmy North Coast to the spectacular South Coast.

Catch the best pro surfing events in NSW!

  • Jody R Bailey

    GREAT WEBSITE! Dear host,
    Ross Clark Jones, ex Central Coast, NSW, at 55 is the finest rogue wave surfer ever.
    Please see his achievements, and denouement, from Nazare Portugal and 4 months amongst 20 metre (think on that) waves. His record over his career is enormous, and his reputation for those in the know is premier. This year’s northern winter he has competed at 50 – 100 foot Nazare (think on that too) amongst the pioneer crew actually surfing unfathomably abundant volume and power. He should be recognised for the top level professional he has become.
    Look here, it is true what you will see:

    That this website exists is a boon for faith in humanity.
    Thank you