Conner Coffin: The Con Man
You know a kid is on the right track when they've graduated from high school at the tender age of sixteen with a 5.0 grade point average, is already taking college courses, can whip up a mean omelet in the kitchen, and is being touted as one of surfing's hottest up-and-comers.
Then why did Conner Coffin's parents tag him with the suspect nickname, "Con Man"? "They say I'm a bit of a con artist," he says. "I'm good at negotiating."
Conner could be referring to how he negotiates the ultra crowded lineup at Rincon where he's become a fixture in the cove, or how he plans to finish his general education requirements at Santa Barbara City College before he heads out full-time on the WQS. Either way, the former NSSA National Champ has a game plan, and he's sticking to it.
Watching Conner surf Rincon is like experiencing a flashback to the 1980s, when a young Tom Curren was hitting his stride blitzing the cobblestone-laden point on the way to winning three ASP world titles. The physical comparisons are there: regular-foots who draw energy from a low center of gravity, throwing big, stylish power carves.
"He's got some good skills, especially in bigger surf," says Curren. "He has the complete package with a real mature, powerful style, and good technique. I always forget how young he really is."
You could say Conner is a bit of a throwback. Where most kids his age are punting and throwing ginger-footed fin wafts, his signature powerful rail hacks are a welcome departure. Still, to be on the level with the next generation, you've got to have an aerial attack. He does, but also knows he needs to work on his futuristic surfing.
"Conner doesn't have many weaknesses," says Curren. "He has the drive. He's on the right track with his competitive prospects, but he's a little weak on his airs. Unfortunately, I can't give him any pointers there."
As well, like most everyone, he excels in good surf. The problem is, most contests end up being held in the small stuff. "I'm more comfortable in good, big waves," he says. "I don't want to be known as the guy who can surf just small waves." No one aims to be known only as a small-wave ace, but for anyone who wants to make a go on the WQS, ripping small surf becomes mandatory. No doubt Conner will be able to adapt his heavy-footed approach to beachbreaks around the world.
As Coffin continues to mature, he'll be fusing powerful and futuristic surfing. As he does, he'll fulfill expectations as another competitive juggernaut coming out of the Santa Barbara region.—Chuck Graham