Uncontroversial: Parker Coffin Is Currently One Of The Best Freesurfers In The World
‘Roundabout’ is plenty compelling evidence.
In the past year Parker Coffin has starred in Snapt 4, Stab High, Stab Highway, Drive Thru, won the Backdoor Shootout, and launched two models with Channel Islands (the best-selling Fishbeard and the SITD-winning CI Pro) all while continuing to drop some of the best freesurf edits on the side as passion projects.
Parker hasn’t cleared the decks either. Currently, he is working on Snapt 5, a new apparel range with Roark, and a new clip for the CI Pro. And that’s just the near-horizon.
When it comes to carving out respectable careers in surfing, in or out of the jersey, there appears to be certain evergreen principles that will extend a career’s timespan. Hard work is one of them, and the classic examples of people who embody that principle to a tee – The hard workers, are guys like Mick Fanning, Mark Mathews, Dane Reynolds and Kelly Slater.
They haven’t magically remained relevant past their mid-thirties. It’s required a constant evolution to adapt to the changing climate of the surf world, and one that above all has required putting in the time and doing the work.
“For context, not long ago I lost pretty much all my sponsors and I was going to go back to school,” says Parker at the end of our chat. “So my whole shift in perspective has come from realizing that I am lucky, and in the meantime I’m going to do what I can to give back to the people who gave me a second chance.”
Stab: You’ve launched two incredibly successful models with CI over the past year amongst other things. Can you tell us a little bit about your role and relationship within the CI family?
Parker: There are guys who know all about their equipment and there are guys that know nothing at all. I’ve had an interest in surfboard design since I was a kid and the Channel Islands building was my school for all that. It’s been eighteen years since I started working with them, and I can confidently say that everyone in that building is driven to evolve surfboards. I don’t want to be a teamrider who just takes boards for free without giving back. I want to actively be involved in informing board designs and help them grow. So when the opportunity came up for me to invest in the business it wasn’t even a question.
What do you like about shaping surfboards?
Shaping is an artform, it is essentially sculpting. But it’s sculpting paired with the intention of riding the work through the water in a nice way. It’s been hugely beneficial for my relationship with surfing. It’s given me an outlet for experimentation and creativity and learning, and then more generally, a greater appreciation for the process of boardmaking and the experience of surfing.
Translating feelings into tangible insights that shapers can use to refine equipment seems like one of the great communication challenges that defines surfer-shaper relationships. What is your working relationship like with Britt and the guys at CI?
Working relationships are interesting because you’re trying to be constructive and critical but you also need to be respectful of people’s different personalities. Some people will be upset if you deliver things too bluntly, others people will invite you to tell them how it is. Britt and I have had to establish parameters for our communication to be effective, and there is always good and critical feedback.
I’ll get a bunch of boards, go and film, watch it back and then take notes. That way I have the visual evidence to support the feeling that it gave me. That makes it so much easier to convey a point, and it’s definitely allowed us to collaborate and evolve more.
Why aren’t you popping on the jersey and competing more?
I’ve competed my whole life and I’ve been in the passenger seat for my brother at the top level for a long time too. I love competitive surfing and that whole world. But for me, honestly, I just don’t think I have the laser-focus or tenacity it demands. Everything in competitive surfing is pretty narrow-minded and in the service of achieving certain outcomes. I love traveling and meeting people and surfing for fun. I think it’s allowed me to live a more balanced lifestyle because my whole life doesn’t revolve around performing in a thirty minute window, and I don’t experience any of those pressures that come with it. My relationships and contract obligations don’t hinge on heats, and I’m intensely grateful to find myself in a spot like this.
Who is inspiring you to surf at the moment?
On the freesurfing side of things: Ian Crane, Kael Walsh, Noa Deane… those guys are incredible. For me though the most constant source of inspiration has been Mason Ho – mostly because he’s having the most fun and gets to be himself. This whole thing could end at anytime, and fuck, if you’re not enjoying yourself when that happpens then what’s the point?
Oath. Thanks Parker
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