Pro surfer from Laguna Niguel, California, best known as the skipping, giggling, permanently cheerful shortboarder from Bruce Brown's 1994 surf movie Endless Summer II, described by Surfline as "the happiest surfer alive."
O'Connell was born (1971) and raised just outside of Chicago, Illinois, and began surfing at age 12, after moving with his family to Southern California. Eight years later he was getting good results in the local pro contests, and in 1992 and 1993 he and Santa Cruz longboarder Robert Weaver spent 18 months shooting on location at surf breaks around the world for Endless Summer II.
When O'Connell qualified for the world championship pro tour in 1995 (he also won that year's Katin Team Challenge), the blond-haired regularfoot was thought of as too nice to ever be a contender. "I want to be everybody's friend," he told Surfer magazine in 1998. "I suppose that's a character flaw in pro surfing." He also said that he'd recently gotten in touch with "my inner asshole"—and his 11th-place finish that year was indeed a career best.
O'Connell retired from the tour after the 2004 season. In 2009 he was inducted to the Huntington Beach Surfing Walk of Fame. O'Connell has worked for Hurley International as a marketing director and a contest organizer since the mid-2000s.
O'Connell is featured in most of Taylor Steele's early surf videos, including Momentum (1992), Focus (1994), and The Show (1997), and was a regular in Steele's Drive Thru series.