Anatomy Of A Heat Winner
Conner Coffin’s fucking savage hackback.
Conner Coffin doesn’t like to talk about it much. “Someone was giving me shit about it,” he told Stab after beating three-time Bells champ Joel Parkinson in round three of the Rip Curl Pro. “I was like, yeah, when shit hits the fan I do a layback. But I probably shouldn’t do it to much because the judges will be like, gah, five.”
Conner’s layback man-hack is fast becoming one of the Tour’s most recognisable turns, and the judges have been adoring it, delivering sixes, sevens and eights for the move.
“Gabriel and Filipe, when they need a big score, they know they have a big air in their back pocket, and they can drop an eight with one manoeuvre,” Conner says. “It’d be cool to have an air like that but for me that turn is something I know I can pull off with some consistency. And, it’s fun as shit to do.”
With a bottom turn lifted straight from the handbook of his Rincon idol, Tom Curren, combined with the aggression of fellow Rincon favourite Dane Reynolds, the layback hack provides the sparkler on what is already one of the most stylish and pure frontside approaches of the new guard. As a product of the Santa Barbara region, there’s no prizes for guessing who Conner’s moulded his approach on.
“I’ve looked up to Tom (Curren) ever since I was six years old,” Conner says. “Growing up in Santa Barbara, once I started surfing at Rincon I’d see him surfing there and some other places, but he was this really elusive character to me. He had this certain mystique about him that just made him this rockstar in my eyes. My uncle, who taught me to surf, is a really stylish dude and style has always been a huge part of surfing to me and when I was growing up that was all I really cared about. I didn’t really think about doing airs, I just wanted to have good style. So immediately Tom was my favourite surfer because I thought he had the best style, and still to this day I think he has the best style ever.”
As a kid, Conner and brother, Parker, meticulously studied Searching for Tom Curren, pressing play and rewind on Curren’s bottom turn over and over again. The evidence of which you can see sprinkled through Con’s approach to that hack.
“I love searching for Tom Curren,” he says. “I remember watching it with my dad and brother and just studying Curren’s bottom turns. Then my dad would take me surfing and tell me when I did a good bottom turn. So yeah, he has had a huge influence on me.”
Conner became a mainstream sensation in the surf world with one of the better compilations of raw power and pure lines the sport has ever seen, in the now-seminal short film, Highline. Again, Curren’s influence is all over it, right down to the ‘Black Beauty’ Channel Islands sled he’s on.
“When I went to J-Bay I’d definitely been getting psyched on that part of Searching for Tom Curren when he was just dissecting those perfect J-Bay walls. So much style and grace. That’s the surfing I love to watch and love to attempt to do.”
It’s a legacy he remains committed to preserving, despite the snowballing of above-the-lip surfing.
“I like trying to surf clean flowing carves and kinda linking everything together,” he says. “That’s the surfing I enjoyed watching growing up and that’s the surfing I try to keep alive on Tour.”
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