"He's Gotten 3x Better In The Past 18 Months" - Stab Mag
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“He’s Gotten 3x Better In The Past 18 Months”

Connor Lee surfs hard, but soft.  Similar to John Florence or Steph Gilmore, but with a style all his own. The secret? Limber hinges. Ankles and knees that bend elastically inward, allowing the surfer to achieve body positions that “squarer” surfers (i.e. Italo, Gab, etc.) cannot.  On top of its leverage and landing benefits, this […]

cinema // Dec 11, 2020
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Connor Lee surfs hard, but soft. 

Similar to John Florence or Steph Gilmore, but with a style all his own.

The secret? Limber hinges. Ankles and knees that bend elastically inward, allowing the surfer to achieve body positions that “squarer” surfers (i.e. Italo, Gab, etc.) cannot. 

On top of its leverage and landing benefits, this flexy approach is also considered more appealing to the eye. But that’s not to say it’s without its downsides—namely, injury.

Surfing in positions that are ergonomically unsound may look (and presumably feel) cool, but it takes a toll on the muscles and ligaments that hold your bones in place. Eventually these strains become too much to bear, and the result is our 2x World Champ out of Title contention in consecutive seasons with a bum knee (you seen Tokyo Rising?).

But Connor Lee isn’t thinking about that. Not yet at least. For now, he’s just a 19-year-old with heaps of natural flair and a knee that likes to kiss the fiberglass. According to whispers in the Newcastle region, Connor’s surfing has improved three-fold over the last 18 months. This is likely the result of his physical growth, in conjunction with expert coaching from Stace Galbraith, who interviewed Connor for this piece.

Watch Mr. Lee’s breakout edit above (courtesy of Zac Heath), and get to know him a little better below.  

Stab: Have you always been that flexible, or do you run Gerry Lopez’s yoga sessions on repeat?
Connor Lee: Ahhh, to be honest I don’t really stretch a lot. I’m pretty lazy [laughs].

Who are your biggest surfing influences?
Dane, Noa, Craig, Steph and my Dad.

Living close to Merewether, do you get to surf with Craig much?
Bits and pieces, he replies to my texts which makes me stoked!

Whose boards are you riding at the moment? We’ve seen you on some Chillis and CIs. Favorite model right now?
I have just jumped on the Chilli Surfboard team and I’m really liking the A2.

This clip was shot during a pretty interesting time. You were restricted to New South Wales, how did you find that? 
It was a good thing. It made me work hard to find waves. It was a blessing in disguise, because I had to work on all areas of my surfing rather than just going to Indo and surfing the same type of wave for a clip.

Are you, the surfer, calling the shots? Or is your filmmaker playing that role?
I try to be pretty onto it. My reports aren’t always spot-on, but Zac [Heath, the filmmaker] is pretty good at putting me in the spot, so I lean on him a lot for that.

The edit was put together really well. Do you spend time in the bay with Zac or give him some space? 
I spent a few days with him at the beginning picking what I thought were the best waves but let him handle the direction of the clip.

Contests or film-making?
I loved making this clip, but I also love the litmus test that contests give you. You can see how you handle pressure and where you surfing is at compared to your peers.

Who’s the kid growing up that’s always had your number in competition? Anything you want to say to him?
I guess Dakota Walters and Micah Margieson. Thomas Carvalho was always hard to beat too. I don’t have a lot to say to them, but they all rip [laughs].

Do you actively want to be on the CT someday? Or are you more of the passive “if it happens it happens” mindset?
Mmm I don’t know, my mindset is definitely if it happens it happens.

What are you working on in your surfing right now?
Mainly trying to be a bit different. I’m learning to tweak some turns in my surfing so I get my own style.

You come from a long line of surfers. Do you feel pressure to perform in honour of the family?
Definitely. My grandfather is 83 and still surfs every day, and my dad had a decent crack when he was my age, so there is some history there.

Favorite female surfer? And you can’t say Steph. 
Caroline marks is pretty nuts.

How are you earning a living at the moment?
I’ve been doing some labouring for an Electrician friend of mine or anyone that needs some bricks lifted. DM me, best rates in town. 

Do you like to party?
[Laughs] I’ve had some fun nights. 

Final words?
Thanks to my family and mates for supporting me!

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