Surfers are a fascinating group of people that are often misunderstood but maintain an iconic position in our American folklore and indeed the fabric of California lifestyle. To some they are hooligans and burnouts that just hangout on the beach because they can't find a job but the reality is that many of the surfers that I've met are hard working, brilliant people who while they might sneak out of work if there's good waves - are often thinking days and weeks ahead, monitoring swells from storms thousands of miles away. Conner Coffin is one of these folks that I love to celebrate and apparently our friends at Firestone Walker 805 Beer do as well since he's the star of their latest production, Mind Surfing.
This new film features insights from his life story as well as some incredible scenes of epic waves from surf spots around the world.
Your trailer opens up with a quote that I wish more guys understood the value of when they are growing up, " what can I learn from people who are older than me who have been through stuff that I'm going through". What are some lessons you'd like to share with some of the younger guys out there?
I think one of the biggest lessons, would be exactly that! I feel that the respect, and maybe even more so just the overall curiosity of the wisdom of our elders, is losing it’s place in todays society. I feel super fortunate to have been surrounded by people from my grandparents, to my parents, to shapers, to talented surfers, who were always willing to talk and share their knowledge. It may be knowledge about a particular craft, a personal philosophy, things that have inspired them, investing, the list is endless…
But connecting with these people and having conversations about so many different things taught me more than I felt like I ever learned in any school or class that I took. I guess now a days, you can go on YouTube and learn just about anything, but for years and years, knowledge and wisdom have been passed down through generations and I still think there’s nothing like finding someone who is passionate and sharing those with them. So I guess the lesson is to be open to learning from all of the people around you and try to connect with people that you find interesting and who are willing to share what they’ve learned!
It might just be me since I'm here in San Diego, but it seems like surfing is getting more popular again. What's driving this trend?
It definitely seems like surfing is getting more popular! I really think that covid drew people towards the ocean. When life slowed down and people needed things to do I think they realized how awesome surfing and being in the ocean are. I also think people are looking for ways to unplug from our very “tech centric” world and tap into some sort of connection with nature. In my opinion, Surfing is one of the best ways to do this and is one of the reasons I fell in love with it from such a young age.
What are your favorite surf spots in California? Around the world? Why?
I absolutely love Santa Barbara, our channel, the islands, and the area all the way up to central California, and Big Sur. I know that’s a big stretch! Santa Barbara is just such a great little city nestled between the mountains and the ocean. I Also love Italy, and I think that Santa Barbara is (from what I’ve found) the most Italy like area in California. Although it has become a bit crazy with so many people moving from all over, I just think it is a really special place.
To me it has always had a mystique and energy about it and I think it’s because there is a true history of the area that goes all the way back to the Chumash Native Americans. The coastline is stunning, the waves get great, and there is a pretty tight knit community. Italy I love the rich culture and the way that they have embraced the preservation and tradition of the past. When you travel through the little villages, or a city like Firenze, you are teleported back in time. They embrace tradition and they prioritize, family and connection. They also haven’t totally screwed up their agriculture system and there are artisans everywhere that are passionate about growing, creating, and cooking very high quality products.
Fiji / Tavarua island in particular is another place that is just so magical. I have been very lucky to spend lots of time there and have even volunteer lifeguarded there several times. The place is pristine, beautiful, and the reefs and ocean are so mesmerizing. The people of Fiji are some of the most kind and genuine people I have ever met and they are super happy with the most simplistic lives.
I feel like it's a pretty logical association between 805 and doing movies like this but how did the idea come to be?
We were actually kicking around doing a few different ideas and I actually thought we were going to do a film about chasing a swell from Hawaii back to California and how Hawaii important Hawaii has been in the evolution of being a professional surfer. We were going to then tie that back in with the roots in the 805. When Keith got involved and we started talking it just sort of morphed more into a piece about my background and story than I expected! Haha. When he wanted to take that direction I couldn’t have been more honored.
With the US Open Of Surfing happening later this week, what are some things you're most looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to surfing in front of my closest version of a “hometown crowd” haha! Obviously it’s not Santa Barbara, but I like to think us Californians stick together! I have a lot of great memories from competing at the us open so it’s always fun. I’m also really looking forward to premiering the film at the bungalow on the 3rd!
If you were heading out on an epic guys trip with a bunch of friends, where are you going? what are you doing? who's going with you?
WOW! That’s a tough question!!!
I actually went on a little guys trip to Huatulco last year with my dad brother and a few of our friends from home. It was epic! We Surfed all day and would enjoy a cold beer in the evening and some epic local food! I think anywhere that that can be achieved is a win.
I guess if I could put together my dream guys trip no budget applicable, It would be a week on Tavarua with with my brother and dad, some friends from home, and hopefully get some of my friends from around the world to come!!!! There’s too many to name!!! Haha! We would be an instacrowd!!!