Under The Influence: Conner Coffin

Conner Coffin. Photo: Jimmicane
Conner Coffin. Photo: Jimmicane

January Issue

The only thing worse than being overbooked is never being booked at all. Conner Coffin understands this, which is why when I saw him at the Hurley Pro after-party last night and asked for an interview, he said, “Of course! Can we do it at 9 tomorrow morning?” It was his only opening in the next three weeks.

And so here we are — him and his brother, Parker, and me — eating Mexican omelets at a San Clemente café and talking about the tour, perspective and positivity. He’s just back from Africa. Tomorrow he leaves for Indo. He’ll be home for a premiere and then he’s off to Portugal. Conner’s slammed until the year’s end, but for now, he takes a sip of coffee and tells me about a magic J-Bay board. His life is one of airplanes, barrels and full-rail turns, and he knows things could be worse. In fact, they couldn’t be much better. —Taylor Paul

My dad works so hard — lately he’s been working from 5:30 a.m. till 7 p.m. I’ve gone and worked for him a few times, just digging ditches and moving gravel and shit. I helped on one job where we were doing these French drains, and for three days straight we were shoveling gravel. It was so tiring. But it’s good because it puts things in perspective like, “Wow, my job is so easy.”

I’ve been doing the ‘QS full time this year. My goal at the start was to get into the Primes for next year, but I ended up doing it at the halfway cutoff so I got to surf in Ballito, Huntington, the Azores, and I’ll be able to do Portugal and the Triple Crown.

There’s a little four-pack that I’ve been traveling with: Pat and Tanner Guduaskas, Nate Yeomans and me. We try to turn all of our contest traveling into these rad, fun trips. We each bring an instrument so we can jam. We’ll eat good food and freesurf a bunch. When you’re with those guys, you just feel like you have a lot of support, everyone’s hanging at the comp and watching each other’s heats and cheering; we get super into it.

Playing music is the next best thing to surfing. I’m so addicted to it. You know how when you go surfing it’s just an escape? Music’s like that. You’re focused in the moment and it just feels good. I turned my parents’ exercise room into a jam room and I’ll go in there and play guitar and drums or whatever. [“At all hours, at all volumes,” says Parker.] I have a couple of buddies that play music so we’ve been playing a lot — mostly blues and classic rock. But blues is my favorite.

Lately I’ve been listening to Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson, Canned Heat and Lou Reed. And I love The Rolling Stones — my family and I saw them in L.A. recently and it was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I pretty much haven’t put down the guitar since then.

I read a lot when I travel. I like everything. I just finished Pillars of the Earth, by Ken Follet, which was good, and right now I’m reading the biography of Neil Young. It’s a classic, easy read.

I pretty much only ride the Fred Rubble, especially around California or in contests. But I rode a Black Beauty in J-Bay and it was one of the best boards I’d ever ridden. It’s got a vee bottom, hard edge all the way from the tail to the nose and thick, boxy rails. I paddled out on it thinking I was just going to cruise, and I took off on my first wave and was like, “Whoa, this board feels really good.” It went so fast and you could turn so hard on it, it was incredible. But I blew through the tail of it after like two surfs, so I ordered another one. [“Yeah but those were two 8-hour sessions,” says Parker.] For me, that’s as fun as surfing gets. It’s not like you’re getting standup barrels, but you’re just going so fast and turning so hard and then getting barreled too.