Mitch Coleborn is 25 years old and, for the first time, just had his pocket stuffed with a WT wildcard. His main sponsor, Volcom, hadn’t been attached to a WT event until earlier this year, when it was announced that they’d be breathing life back into a Tavarua WT stop. The Volcom Pro, Fiji will be the first time the tour’s been back there since 2008 and, honestly, kinda embodies what the dream tour’s all about. Tropical perfection! Adventure! And do you think Mitch, a powerful goofyfooter who helped revolutionise the finner, is ready to go?
Stab: How d’you discover such a thing?
Mitch Coleborn: I was in the states the other day. I didn’t think was gonna get it, but then a few people around the Volcom office were giving me these weird smiles, like, “You still gonna go to Fiji?” and I was like, nah, I’ve got a trip booked. I was gonna go hang in Bali with my parents, then I had a trip to Indo with the Monster crew and Surfing Magazine. Everyone was sussing out whether or not I had time to go, everyone knew but they didn’t wanna just tell me. It was the weirdest thing. Finally, I was hanging with (Volcom CEO) Wooly at this little party and he was getting me all pumped up for Fiji, and I was thinking, does he know that I’m not going? So I went home thinking about it, and I told my chick, I think I’m gonna get the wildcard. Then the next day, they told me I got it.
What’s the best thing about going to Fiji? I don’t get WT points, but I’m just excited about being in an event with those guys. That’s what I’ve been gearing towards my whole career, and to get a chance like this. I used to get really jealous seeing guys get wildcards when we were younger, ’cause I was thinking, fuck, Volcom’s never gonna have a WT event, I’m never gonna get that chance! But it’ll be so good to get a little taste of what’s to come after the ‘QS.
You’re pretty familiar with the place? Yeah, Volcom have really good roots there. They sponsor a coupla guys over there and they’ve done their annual trip there a few times, where they hired out the whole of Tavarua and took a bunch of team riders and execs every year or so. Cloudbreak can be tricky to surf, it’s pretty sectiony and there’s a coupla different holes in the reef, so it can be hard to get used to. But Restaurants, if it’s on, it’s pretty much just on, every wave you take off on is just a perfect barrel.
Tell me about Cloudbreak. There’s the ledge out the back, you just takeoff and try and get straight under it, get a barrel right off the bat. You can kinda wait for sections, it slows down and speeds up. It’s sectiony, especially if it’s not just absolutely perfect. There’s different little sections on the reef and some of them are almondy barrels and some of them throw wide. It’s pretty hard to figure out.
Your first wildcard being at a left reef must be the sweetest fruit. It’s a dream wave for me to get a wildcard spot at. It’s a lot better for me than Snapper or something, so I’m stoked.
You go to one of the world’s best lefts, with 32 of the world’s best surfers. What do you take away? I’ll be studying all the guys. Watching the Hobgoods surf, they’re unbelievable there. Take it all in, trying to gather as much info from the event that I can, see how they all approach things and the way they ride a wave in contest. I’ve hung out at Snapper a few times but it’s too much of a shit-show. It’ll be good to see them in that environment, with less spectators and distractions.
Who would you least like to draw there? With that type of wave, it doesn’t really matter who you get. You could be the guy that paddles into the heat’s best wave, and it could be the best wave of your life, or your opponent’s life, y’know? So, I think the biggest opponent is wave selection. Just being on the best waves, you’re gonna beat anyone out there.
What kinda quiver are you packing? I’ll just have a bit of everything. My normal board at the moment is a 5’10″, so a bunch of those and a coupla step-ups. Up to maybe a 6’4″. I’ll take about eight boards.
How goes your qualification campaign? I’ve had one kinda ok result in Brazil, 2400 points, but since then I haven’t really gotten the ball rolling. Hopefully this is what I need to turn things around. There’s still a bunch of Primes left and then I’m gonna go to Europe and do a few six-stars, so there’s still time to get it going.
You’re older than the average guy taking a swing at the WT. Why now? I got all the freesurfing and filming out of the way when I was younger. I sensed what was going on when I was 20 and thought about what I really wanted to do, what I really wanted to work on. Now it feels like everything’s coming together for the younger guys, but when I was like that we just didn’t do the ‘QS until you were off the juniors. It’s just changed a bit now. But I’m definitely no spring chicken.
Who’s the best surfer in the world right now? John John. He has to be, f’sure. The way that he’s adapted to the tour and his barrel riding, then his airs, he’s just got that ball rolling big time at the moment, he’s the favourite going into every event whether it’s a big barrel or a fucking two-foot ramp, know? He’s pretty crazy at the moment.
Is there anything you could learn from watching him adapt to tour? Yep. Barrel-riding. He’s one with the barrel.
There’s so much focus on flair, that tuberiding can be an overlooked thing sometimes, can’t it? I think it’s ’cause they’re inside the barrel, you can’t see what they’re doing. It keeps it a little secret inside there (laughs). – Elliot Struck
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