As of January 2017, Conner Coffin has officially become the newest member of the Rip Curl elite team.
This freshly minted contract comes off the back of a rookie year to remember, in which Conner finished solidly at number 17 on the rankings ladder.
So before the 2017 season kicks off and training season gets into full swing, we thought we’d catch up with Conner and ask him to reflect on the year past…
Looking back on your rookie year, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt?
The biggest thing? Yikes. I guess it’s just that you’ve gotta believe in yourself. You’ve gotta stay focused and confident, and not let results or a close heat loss affect your next event – or even your next three events – because that can happen.
There was a point in 2016 where a couple different things happened that I was disappointed about, and I let that shift my momentum and turn into a five-event shocker. I learnt that you need to re-boot and move on to the next one without looking back – that’s huge.
John Florence once said that 90% of his skill was mental, and only 10% was raw talent…
Yeah, totally! I mean, everyone surfs so well – it’s only when you’re confident and feeling good that you get in to rhythm with the ocean, and everything just kind of falls in to place. And obviously I learned some strategic things too – little things like positioning – and that makes up a big part of your year of results too, even if it doesn’t feel like it.
Is there anything you’re specifically changing for next year?
Well, you know, signing with Rip Curl is a huge change – my crew at events will be completely different, and that’s a big deal. Aside from that I’ll try to focus on my strengths and use those to my advantage, and continue to work on the weaknesses.
Last year was such a weird year, in terms of who won events, rankings, etc – did you see that as an opportunity, or did it add a bit of confusion to a rookie year?
Well for me I didn’t have anything to compare it to, so I was just like, “Okay, cool.” I was just focusing on surfing well and learning and improving my surfing and myself. But there was definitely a point at the beginning of the year where people were talking about how few points it was going to take to requalify – but I thought the opposite. I was thinking how all of the wildcard/underdogs were doing well, and that was awesome – but in my head, I knew guys like Kelly, Parko and Mick were going to get results too at some stage. And that would mean it would be really hard to requalify. I just had that tucked in my head, and by the end of the year it was something like 24,000 points to requalify. I don’t really pay attention to numbers, but looking back it’s pretty interesting.
You’re 23. Is it crazy to see guys Kelly’s age, or even Parko’s age, on tour? Do you ever think, “This could be me in 15 years?”
It fully trips me out! I mean, Parko is younger than Kelly by a whole generation. Kelly, pfft, the fact that he’s still on tour blows my mind. I can’t even imagine doing this for another 20 years, keeping my body in working order to surf the way Kelly surfs, and travel the way he travels? Fuck, I’d definitely have to be flying first class somewhere to make it that long!
But it’s crazy. Kelly has beaten so many generations of surfers, and destroyed so many goals and dreams and world titles, and hell, even my Rookie of the Year dream the other day. Ha. It’s amazing. And I say this now, granted I could be wrong, but I could never see myself doing that at 44 years old. I’d be stoked if I had a 10-year career on the CT, and even that sounds long! I don’t think past tomorrow, or even today, really. Right now I’m thinking about the fact that there might be waves this afternoon.
Well, get out there and enjoy, Conner. Great to have you on the team, and we’ll see you at Snapper!
Conner talks Kelly Slater, life lessons and the state of the World Tour