My Style of Surfing, with Conner Coffin
Style of rotation: Big straight liens are sick. They’re really hard ‘cause with rotations you can kind of fling them. Liens, you need more pop to get your tail high and make ‘em look good. Julian does some massive ones and Bruce’s old school no-grabs were sick.
Barrel: Chopes. I went there a little while ago and we only got it at four foot but it was soooo sick and round and perfect. I can’t even imagine it at eight foot.
Grab: I really like a backside straight air or a backside rotation with a method. Not many people do backside straight airs. Kerrzy and Dane do the best ones.
Rail turn: At J-Bay or Rincon (in Santa Barbara) where the wave is real hollow but has a face so you can do a big bottom turn and come up right close to the pocket and do a big down carve all the way down to the where the barrel is. Tom Curren does really stylish and powerful turns like that. Andy always did really sick big down carves and Dane is so powerful on those turns.
Combos: One of those big down carves then pulling straight into the barrel is amazing. What is also sick, that people don’t realise, is a good roundhouse. You go way out on the flats and come back with a lot of speed and really nail that corner of the pocket and blow the tail out on the rebound. Then go straight into the air. Coleborn did this really sick roundhouse combo on a trip I was just on where he tagged the corner and blew his tail out.
Sled: Lately I’ve been riding the CI Rebel Cry. I ride that thing so much and it works so well in so many types of waves. The curve and the outline makes it go good in mushy Huntington but at the same time work really well at fast, hollow Rincon. It’s got a really good rocker.
Travel quiver: I usually look at the swell before I’m going, but a couple of 5’9” slash tails. I’m diggin’ the DFR (Channel Islands’ Dane model) rounded pins for better waves. Maybe a little Neck Beard for when the waves are crappier or something just round and sharp.
Fins: I’ve ridden Futures for the last couple of years. I used to ride glass-ons but I got so over traveling with them. I got it down for a while where I could get it so they wouldn’t break out on the flight but I would spend an hour packing my board bag. Now I get it done in 10 minutes. I don’t have a signature fin or anything but the medium sized AM1s are great. I also dig the Tech Flex WCT fin they use: really drivey and good for bigger waves.
Wax: I just changed my wax ‘cause it was an inch thick and my board goes so much better. I’ve been riding for Sex Wax since I was a grom and their factory is right near my house and my friend Dave is a legend and runs their team. I use a base coast of red for perfect little bumps than purple on top. I haven’t gotten into the whole goo thing. My feet move too much when I use it.
Boardies: I dig the Hurley all black with two little stripes on them, part of the Phantom range but just medium stretch. They’re a little shorter and stretchy and real nice to surf in.
Summer ensemble: I’m a trunk and teo guy but I’m usually so white when I go on a surf trip I take the teo off and try to get a bit of brown.
Through the trees, drained of colour, the lines a man draws on a wave come into sharp relief. Conner paints ’em in arcs of white. Photo by Tom Carey.
Winter ensemble: It gets pretty chilly up here in Santa Barbara so this year I got an all three-mm with a built-in hood ‘cause the air is real cold in the mornings, to stop the ice cream headaches. If it’s windy, I rock the hood and especially if I’m surfing up north. I go through bootie phases. I’ll get a pair I like but other times I’ll feel super sluggish in them. If the waves are tubing, I’ll wear booties; if the waves are small, I won’t.
Opponent: I haven’t really surfed against Dane, but he’d be fun. I’m not really like that. I’m not like I wanna beat this guy. That’s not really how I set goals. I think of it in terms of people who push you and challenge you to perform better. So Dane and obviously Kelly would be insane. I surfed against John John at J-Bay. That was really fun. And I surfed against Gabriel (Medina) at Huntington. I lost to both of those guys in close heats. John John was like .16.
Inspiration: To this day, I still enjoy watching Tom Curren surf out at Rincon. The way he rides the wave and the lines he draws, I find it refreshing compared to how a lot of people surf today. Andy was always a big inspiration and Dane is insane. And, then, I’d definitely say Gerr (Brad Gerlach, Conner’s coach) was a huge inspiration. He tells me things to try and things to look at, and just to enjoy the small parts of surfing, like the feel of the water and going fast. Surfing is such a cool sport and it’s hard to get better but there is so much to improve and so many ways to do it.
Contest: Pipe Masters or a contest at Chopes. J-Bay was insane to surf in a contest. We were out there with four men in heats but a man-on-man heat out there would be insane.
Strategy: That’s where I make some mistakes. Against Gabe, I know Gabriel he’s gonna do big airs. You can’t out air Gabriel so I try to stick to my strengths with big turns. If I was to surf against him again, I’d try to catch better waves. I had an 8.33, then my other waves weren’t so good. You need to make sure you’re on better waves than those guys otherwise you’re not giving yourself a chance. I wasn’t aggressive enough to get the waves. I guess I’m too nice.
Big waves: Eight foot Chopes would be pretty tough. I can’t imagine how crazy and powerful with it hitting the reef all at once. Pipe is always tough. I haven’t got many waves out there but it’s always scary going out there. I’ve spoken about going to surf Mavericks this year. That’s something I want to do in the future. I think it’s cool if you’re a surfer to dabble in a number of areas.
Surfer: Andy, Curren, Dane. And watching Gerr’s old shit. It’s great to have him as a coach. He’s a sick surfer and his style is so good. I’m a style fanatic so I like the way Tom (Curren) surfs and I like when everything is smooth and gives you the whole package. He’s not always doing the most radical stuff, just the flow and the speed. You can do crazy stuff, and that’s what is rad about Dane. And I really enjoy the rawness about him and Andy but at the same time I like how Tom puts a whole wave together at Rincon.
Interview by Jed Smith.