Josh Kerr Wins O’Neill Coldwater Classic

Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.

Josh Kerr, beer in hand

In 2007, surfer Josh Kerr was competing on the World Tour against the top names in the surfing world: Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, and 41 other hungry surfers. He didn’t enjoy that first year and dropped off the tour to pursue surfing his own way. Now he freesurfs, takes photos and works on his movie The Kerrazy Kronicles, due out in January. And, yes, he also surfs the occasional contest. The approach seems to have worked out for him: he won the Drug Aware Pro Margaret River earlier this year and just won the O’Neill Coldwater Classic Canada. I caught a shivering Kerr on the beach after his win.

You’ve been on a roll since beating previous winner Peter Devries this morning.
I knew I had a tough heat this morning. It gives you a lot of confidence when you take down one of the big guns for the competition and just kept the momentum going.

What do you think of the whole event?
It’s a great event. The community is all behind it. This morning against Pete was awesome. Nine this morning there was 300 people on the beach, everyone clapping and hooting. It was a really good one.

What distinguishes this contest from others you’ve done?
Just look around. I’ve never been anywhere like this, where you where gloves and boots in summertime to go surfing. It’s definitely a trip. The only thing I could compare it to is like going to Mammoth except you’re in the ocean surfing, not snowboarding. The town is awesome and the people are really happy. I’m definitely coming back.

What was it like out in the water?
I was nervous cold and tired. Cramping up on the paddle out going, “I’m not going to let these cramps get to me”. Four heats in a day, I can’t believe my body held up to it all.

Are you pushing hard for the World Tour next year?
Not really. If I’d have done some more comps I already would’ve been on the ‘CT right now. My whole focus was going to free surf more than anything. It just kind of panned out, especially after winning earlier in the year. I’ve been doing good in every contest I do.

Are you taking a laid-back approach to surfing comps?
Bottom line is I know I’m not a world title contender. I just want to be a good freesurfer and get people stoked. That’s my whole goal in life, to get the grommets all stoked and get ‘em psyched to go for a surf.

Did you do anything beside surf while you were here?
We went to see the bears, but all we saw were salmon trying to get up the stream. It was pretty funny, though.

What are you going to do with all this money?
I don’t know. . .drink it away.

Big party tonight?
Yeah, stoked. It’s awesome and hopefully everyone will be partying with me, eh?

Yeah, you should go get something warm in the belly.
For sure, I need to get out of here right now, I’m freezing.

–Will Taylor

Filed to:

promo logo