Stab Magazine | A Private Haleiwa session
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A Private Haleiwa session

Yesterday Haleiwa was six to eight foot and jammin’, but it was eerie quiet. Kolohe Andino paddled out on his own. Then Conner Coffin pulled up at the parking lot, then Kelly Slater pulled up, then they both paddled out and all of a sudden, there was a session a-happening. Ain’t everyday you get a […]

news // Mar 8, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Yesterday Haleiwa was six to eight foot and jammin’, but it was eerie quiet. Kolohe Andino paddled out on his own. Then Conner Coffin pulled up at the parking lot, then Kelly Slater pulled up, then they both paddled out and all of a sudden, there was a session a-happening. Ain’t everyday you get a North Shore session with one buddy and the world’s best surfer. So, what did Conner Coffin, of Santa Barbara, experience out there in the rippy Haleiwan bowl? What did he learn? Thankfully, Conner swiped right when Stab illuminated his phone.

Stab: One of your best Hawaiian sessions ever, right?
Conner: The best surf I’ve ever had out at Haleiwa, f’sure. I’ve been coming to Hawaii since I was 13, at least once a year, if not four times a year. I always keep my eye on Haleiwa, I like it, you can sneak down there and get it uncrowded ’cause people hate that rip. It’s weird ’cause it’s deceiving, it doesn’t look very gnarly from the beach and then you get out there and it’s a pretty heavy wave, but super shreddable and fun on its day.

Amazing to have a session on the North Shore, in peak season, with two other surfers. Absolutely. It was surprising. I feel like everyone focuses attention on Pipeline, especially this time of year and rightfully so, ’cause you’re not getting barrels like that anywhere else over here. But I enjoy all the other waves over here, especially if you’re on it and can figure out when they’re gonna be good. For me it’s all about trying to find waves that’re less crowded, where I can actually ride some waves.

Is Haleiwa scary to surf at that size? I used to get scared out there as a grom because of the rip, it sucks you right back into the pit. It freaked me out. But once you get used to it, you use it to your advantage. It’s easy to get caught inside out there, which is scary. If it’s 10 foot out there, I think it’s one of the scariest waves over here.

What club did you scoop outta the bag? I rode a 6’8″ Channel Islands. I think Kolohe was on a 7’2″ or 7’0″. Kelly was on a 6’6″. I was stoked I rode my 6’8″ ’cause I got a lot of waves on it. It’s a fine line between riding a bigger board and catching a bunch of waves, and riding a bigger one and getting a little bit more groovy. Sometimes it’s more fun just to ride a wave, draw out some turns. The more you surf over here and the more confident you get, the smaller board you can ride. But I mean, I feel pretty comfortable on some days and I’ll go out with a smaller board, but other days I feel like riding a bigger board. It’s so easy to catch more waves and you get way more regardless of who you are. Like, Kelly was on a 6’8″ the other night at Pipe, which is a big board for him and he was all over the place, on every wave.

So, what’s it like surfing with Kelly Slater and one other person at solid Haleiwa? It was super rad, I’ve only surfed with Kelly a handful of times. We were all sitting out there and he was giving us little hints on where to line up and stuff and we were calling each other into waves, it was a super good vibe. I hadn’t surfed with Kolohe since the Red Bull Minor Threat trip. It was so rad.

What’s Kelly like in a situation like that? He’s all over the lineup. All of a sudden he’s outside on some wave, then he’s getting some nugget on the inside. He’s been surfing here for so long that he knows all the waves really well. He sees something in the waves that I don’t see. He knows if a wave’ll be good. He’s so knowledgable. He positions himself perfectly every time. He kept trying to do party waves with Kolohe and I. I’d been sitting out the back for a long time and this one came in and he was like, “let’s party wave it!” and I was like, Ok. On another wave Kolohe took off and Kelly took off behind him. It was funny. But that’s what’s so cool about surfing. There’s no other sport where you can paddle out and surf with… y’know, it’s like shooting baskets with Kobe Bryant. And we were out there surfing with arguably the best surfer of all time.

Do you turn and watch him from the back when he takes off? Not today, ’cause I was making sure I wasn’t getting caught inside by the next set. But yes, most the time you’re spinning to watch him if you can. You can always learn something from him.

What kind of things did you learn from him? I noticed that he’s really comfortable taking off really deep. Instead of fighting the rip, he lets it take him deeper into the lineup. I was always trying to stay in a certain position and he’d just drift deeper to wait for the ones back there, which tended to be better waves.

And what about Kolohe out there? He was ripping, I could tell he’s been working on surfing bigger waves and getting his board dialled in, I was really impressed and it was cool to see. Y’know, where I live I don’t have that many peers beside my brother to go and surf with. Kolohe’s on tour now so he’s surfing with good surfers all the time. So I’m stoked when I can surf with him, or someone of that calibre.

Stigma around younger crew and lack of big wave game. Discuss. Ever since I’ve been younger, I’ve had a fancy for waves with a bit more power. By no means am I paddle surfing Jaws, that scares me bigtime. I just love the waves over here with more juice. The takeoff, feeling the speed down the face of the wave, then you lay into a turn, it’s so fun and feels so good. Every surfer decides at a different time that they wanna surf bigger waves. Every generation goes through this, though. Shane Dorian was scared to paddle out at outer reefs and now he’s the craziest dude ever. It depends what you grow up doing, but at a certain point you get a taste of it and you want more. On Stab‘s website, people are just, for any reason, writing you off. I don’t even know what it is. Kolohe was charging at the Pipe Masters, he got some sick waves and it was impressive. But people still go on there and say “He doesn’t surf big waves! He doesn’t charge!” But, he’s getting tubed at the Pipe Masters… – Elliot Struck

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