ASP INTERVIEW: Conner Coffin on Electric Wilderness, Competition and Education
Conner Coffin is without question one of the most well-rounded surfers of the next generation. With a deep repertoire ranging from technical barrel-riding skills to an array of powerful turns, Coffin’s distinct approach to riding waves sets him apart as a top American standout. But Coffin’s depth goes well beyond his surfing ability. At only 19 years old, Coffin is a committed college student, ASP North America Pro Junior Champion, and has recently launched his first video, Electric Wilderness, a collaborative effort with his brother, Parker, and friends at Youngwisetails.com.
Coffin’s blog youngwisetails.com has become a favorite in the surfing world and from fresh video clips to the “tail of the week’, youngwisetails.com has become the perfect outlet for the Coffin brothers to unleash their creative side.
“The blog has been rad,” Coffin said. “It’s been fun doing it with my brother and Ryan (Perry). We have a good time doing anything and sometimes we get bummed when we’re not going on trips together, knowing it’s not for our blog. It’s rad when we finally do something and get to put our video and content toward that.”
With the success of the blog in full swing, the Coffins set out to release their first full-length movie, Electric Wilderness, and the video’s ingredients of the best of the next generation and a fun vibe created a successful first release.
“The movie, I’m really psyched on how it turned out and I think Ryan did an insane job. We didn’t get insane waves or anything, but everyone’s told me that it looked like the most fun surf trip ever and that’s all we wanted. I think we accomplished our goal. That movie was a Surfing Magazine Trip and Tom Carey put together the crew. We’re good friends with Tom and we dig his outlook on life. Ryan is pretty much with us all of the time and does everything for Young Wise Tails for filming and editing side. It was a no-brainer having him along. We just put together the idea and the crew was already there and it came together nicely.”
In addition to his successful free-surf projects, Coffin has had a breakthrough season competitively, winning two major Junior events on the way to taking out the ASP North America Pro Junior Title. While competition is a priority for the young regular-footer, Coffin attributes his recent success in a jersey to a healthy balance of free-surf trips and major events.
“Competition is a completely different thing and it’s fun its own ways,” Coffin said. “The whole idea is to balance trips like we did for Electric Wilderness to keep you sane and not be doing contests every week. For me, I’m only 19, I want to be doing trips and having fun surfing with my friends and doing projects like that. My main focus is to balance that with competing for the next couple of years. I don’t want to be a total free-surfer. I dig doing contests and for me, when I don’t do too many, I’m really fired up for the ones I do get to do. That’s kind of my whole deal right now.”
While several of Coffin’s peers have focused on early qualification for the elite ranks, Coffin is approaching the ASP Top 34 in a different light, and plans to mature a bit before making a strike at the ASP WCT.
“I feel like this year and the last two years, everyone has qualified really young. They’re my age, so in the back of my head, I’m thinking “should I be doing that right now?’ For me personally, I have a lot of things I’d like to accomplish before I put 100 percent of my efforts towards the tour. Mostly, as far as surfing, I feel like I work really hard, but I feel like if I take a year or so and keep doing contests and building my seed while doing free surfing trips with surfers that are better than me, I feel like in a year or two years, I can really hit it and be on the tour and mature and ready to win events. I don’t want to be on there getting 17ths and struggling to stay on. I think for me, it’s mostly a mental thing. I really want to be there and I’m having fun getting to do some of the Primes and 6-Stars to build my seed. I’m so grateful to have those opportunities and I want to be ready to be there someday.”
Coffin is no doubt one of America’s brightest stars and is constant focus around surfing’s media platform, but the core surf scene surrounding his hometown of Santa Barbara has kept the prodigy humble.
“There’s so much inspiration to draw from in Santa Barbara. There are a lot of really good surfers who don’t do contests, so there is a really big soul side of surfing in Santa Barbara which is rad. Sometimes, you’re almost frowned upon if you do the “CT, so that’s a little funny too. It’s not like So. Cal where more stickers and brighter wetsuits are supported, so you kind of have to fly under the radar. It’s definitely a trippy balance, but I think it’s a good one. It’s about surfing because you love to surf and that’s my deal. I just love to surf good waves and go on awesome surf trips and fun is at the top of my list as well as having fun in contests. For me, contests can be totally fun as long as you’re in the right mindset, so that’s what I try and do.”
Aside from Coffin’s surfing accolades, the Santa Barbara native has maintained educational excellence throughout his travels and is already committed to a college degree, a rarity amongst young surfers his age.
“School has been a challenge and I’m not doing a full load of classes, but I’m doing one to two online classes a semester. Still, with traveling, especially places like Indo where you don’t have internet, you have to try and get ahead or persuade the teachers to let me turn in stuff late and sometimes they’re just over you. It’s gnarly, but it’s fun though. Santa Barbara City College is a rad school and I’m stoked to be doing it. I almost have my GE (general education) done and it’s hard to really commit myself to a degree when I’m not doing it full time, but I’m just going to keep chipping away and see what I can do. I’m looking at a business degree or something along those lines.”
Conner will be back in action as a wildcard at the upcoming Hurley Pro at Trestles, which holds a waiting period from September 17 through 23, 2012. Watch LIVE at www.hurley.com/hurleypro