Conner Coffin Overcomes Early Interference, Advances to Quarters of Oakley World Pro Junior

Oakley Pro Jr. Championship

Heat strategies tend to differ from one surfer to the next. Some guys prefer to sit patiently and wait for the best possible waves. Others prefer a quick start to get points on the board. Conner Coffin is typically the former. His powerful approach, which he’s developed over countless hours on the long, fast walls at Rincon in Santa Barbara, Calif., caters best to a clean, open face. His air game isn’t on par with most of the talent of his generation, but he’s easily in the one-percentile when it comes to teenage power surfers.

So when a bomb rolled into the Keramas reef in the opening seconds of his Round 4 heat on Day 8 of the Oakley World Pro Junior while facing an uber-talented, young Hawaiian in Kalani David, he couldn’t help but get aggressive.

“I saw him going for this thing and I kind of thought he wasn’t going to catch it, and if he doesn’t catch it, I want to be on it,” Coffin explained. “ I didn’t want to just sit out the back and let him have it, but when I saw he did catch it, I pulled back and didn’t think twice about it. But since he went for the barrel, I foam-balled it.”

The interference was given to Coffin. His second score would be halved. The pressure was on. While some competitors may have cracked in the situation, Coffin took a different approach: “I actually felt relaxed after that; I maybe channeled a little inner anger towards my first wave.”

That “first wave” was a series of vicious hacks and drawn out wraps, which was rewarded with an 8.5.

“[Despite the interference], it’s kind of the same strategy: I’m going out there trying to get two solid scores,” Coffin said. “Once you get an interference you’re kind of like, f*ck it, more or less. You’re thinking, ‘alright, I’m out here, I’ve got to get two eights to make a heat, at least, and even then, if they get 12 points or more you’re still out of luck.”

Coffin had plenty to worry about. David had taken out Luke Davis with a series of massive aerials a day prior. Though just 14, his game was complete. If the right wave came, the scores would too. Fortunately for Coffin, that wave never really rolled David’s way. Coffin held on to win with a two-wave score of 12.17 to David’s 8.86.

With the heat win, Coffin qualified through to the quarterfinals. Last year he finished equal-3rd, so he’s just one heat from equaling his best result at the ASP World Junior level. But he’ll face quite the challenge in his next heat: the 2010 ASP World Junior Champion, Jack Freestone of Australia. In his Round 4 heat, Freestone posted the first perfect 10 of the event after hucking a massive alley-oop aerial.

“Jack’s surfing really well; he’s won this event before, so it should be a fun heat,” Coffin said. “We surf way different, so it will be interesting to see what happens.”

The swell dropped dramatically over the course of Day 8, so the call was made for a lay day tomorrow, and action is expected to resume on Monday, Oct. 15, when a new swell is expected to begin showing.