Bird’s gotta fly, snake’s gotta slither. Some jump sections and others — say, Conner Coffin — keep it close to the face. He’s a turner. And a fine one at that — probably the best of his age (18). Not that he can’t punt like his peers — he can; we’ve seen plenty of photos and videos lately for proof — but it’s his rail-game that pays the bills. Conner has virtually, ahem, carved a niche in the biz with those powerful, sweeping arcs of his. But what makes his lines so clean, his gaffs so utterly commanding? What keeps a soul like Conner’s in such close communion with wave? The answer: simple geography. —Beau Flemister
CONNER: I didn’t grow up surfing T-Street, little wedgy beach breaks. I grew up surfing Rincon, which really tailors to rail surfing. So of course you watch the way the guys at your break surf the wave, and for me that was Tom Curren — my favorite surfer. Watching Tom and guys like Bobby [Martinez] surf Rincon — it’s all about the line you draw on a wave, all about your style.
Because Rincon is such a long, fast wave, doing airs there doesn’t really make sense. It’s hard to make sections and connect a wave when you’re trying airs, and guys’ll just trip out watching you waste a good wave on one. What’s respected at Rincon, among pros and local guys alike, is the way you turn.
I’ve always felt that you have so much more control when you’re on a wave than in the air. It just feels better. When you’re actually on the wave, just driving with that front foot and getting all that speed — and then you lay it on a rail — you’re harnessing the wave’s energy. It’s like you’re a part of it [the wave] and that’s a rad feeling.
It all comes down to what people enjoy doing, or how they want to do it, and that’s the cool thing about surfing: there are so many different approaches. I was raised to approach waves in a different way — on the rail — and that’s what still feels right for me today.