Born in Chicago in 1971, O'Connell moved to Newport Beach and then Dana Point in the early 1980s where he was a member of the Dana Hills High surf team. In 1990, O'Connell represented the United States in the World Amateur Championships in Japan, winning the first event and finishing ninth overall in the Open Division also winning two PSAA events. He gained celebrity status when he took one of the lead roles in Bruce Brown's remake of his 1966 classic The Endless Summer. He maintained his seed for many seasons, peaking in 1998 at 11th on the WCT and 10th in the Surfer Poll. The same year he and fellow Orange County businessmen launched The Realm, a start-up clothing venture. After many seasons on the ASP World Tour, Pat decided to retire from the tour "on his own terms", having requalified for the tour at the last event in Hawaii. Soon after walking away from full-time competition, O'Connell began a marketing job for Hurley International. Pat has also been one of the regulars (along with Donovan Frankenreiter and Benji Weatherley) on the "Drive Thru" series of surf movies and television shows since 2005. He is a 2009 inductee into the Surfers' Hall of Fame in Huntington Beach, California.
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