Stab Magazine | Being A Rookie Ain't Easy: How To Stay Hot On The World Tour

Being A Rookie Ain’t Easy: How To Stay Hot On The World Tour

It’s been a bloodbath for Tour rookies in 2016. Here’s what one learned.

news // Nov 21, 2016
Words by Jed Smith
Reading Time: 3 minutes

With six of the nine rookies on Tour this year sitting on or below the re-qualification bubble heading into the season-ending Pipe Masters, 2016 has been a bloodbath for tour newcomers. Conner Coffin could have been down there with them, had it not been for a last-start runner-up in Portugal, meaning he now finds himself sitting comfortably at 19th, though still with some work to do at Pipe. The rollercoaster year has given him plenty of insight into the swinging psychological pendulum that is being a rookie year on the toughest surfing tour on the planet.

“Confidence and self-belief is 99 percent of it,” he says. “When you have confidence, you trust your intuition and you have more awareness of where the sets are coming or you’re in sync with what’s going on in the ocean… You have to believe in yourself and trust your ability and really just stick to (your) game and not wonder what everyone else is doing.”

Conner Ports 3

A Portuguese backdrop is a fine scene to save your spot on tour in front of.

Conner’s year started well. He looked sharp on his way to a ninth on the Gold Coast and backed it up with what he says was the best heat he surfed all year against Jordy Smith and Mick Fanning at Bells on his way to a fifth place finish. It all seemed so easy.

“You’re not over-analysing shit and not thinking too much about strategy, you’re just in the moment enjoying it and you have a sense of intuition and awareness of the ocean which, maybe sometimes when you’re more in your head and thinking about stuff, you’re not trusting that,” he says.

The wheels immediately fell of following Bells. From then until his runner-up in Portugal, Conner didn’t make it past the third round once. “I started to lose confidence,” he says. “Sometimes I felt like I over analysed things. That was a big thing.”

Conner Ports 4

The low point came following a round two loss at J-Bay; Conner’s favourite wave and the one place he was tipped to do well at.

“When you’re not confident, you’re not trusting that (intuition),” he says. “I feel like we’re all on Tour because we have a good sense of the ocean and you’re a good surfer, but it’s being able to trust that in the 30 minutes of the heat with all the pressure that may or may not be there in your head.”

Come Portugal, it all could have been different had he not scraped through a round two arm-wrestle with good friend Nat Young. That, in itself, was a valuable lesson.

“Sometimes all it takes is for the little shit to fall into place; you get a score by a tiny bit and you make one heat,” he says. “Or maybe you don’t get the score by a tiny bit. Maybe you catch a wave at the end of the heat and make it through because of that. There’s so many little factors.”

Conner Ports 2

This is what we most like watching Conner do, and this is what Conner most likes doing.


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