With surfing making its debut in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan, surfers around the world are angling to make it into the competition. Conner Coffin is one of them.
Like his fellow World Surf League competitor Kolohe Andino, Coffin has been working hard all season to get to the top of the rankings, since finishing in the top two positions on the WSL Championship Tour means you qualify for the Olympic Games. While Andino currently sits in first place ahead of John John Florence, Coffin is in 12th place, so he’ll need to make up some points the rest of the season to get there. But he isn’t giving up—not by a long shot.
“It’s super exciting and a pretty insane opportunity to have a shot at qualifying and having the opportunity to represent the U.S. on that stage,” Coffin told Men’s Journal. Coffin’s next chance to make up some ground is at the Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o competition, which will be taking place from August 21 through September 1.
Coffin spoke with Men’s Journal about his top surf spots around the world, how he’s training to potentially compete in the Olympics, his favorite surfboard, and more.
Where are some of your favorite places to surf?
It’s a hard question because each spot has something different. On the World Surf League tour, we compete at some really amazing places. When I’m at Bells Beach, [Australia], I stay with family and it feels like Santa Barbara. J-Bay (Jeffreys Bay) in South Africa is probably my favorite. The waves are so good, and we stay at a beautiful place there. Hawaii Pipe and Tahiti round out my top four. I do love Europe, too, especially for the food.
What’s one of your favorite travel destinations?
I love Fiji and Tavarua island there. I’ve been going since I was eight years old, and I’ve made some really good friends there. I’ve had the chance to lifeguard there, too. It’s such a special place, and the waves are some of the best in the world. The whole experience is incredible, and Fijians have the biggest hearts. It’s so dreamy.
What are some of your favorite ways to train for surfing?
When I’m home, I try to surf as much as I can. That’s the main thing that helps you stay sharp. I paddle and spin bike a lot, and I also like the infrared sauna. That really keeps everything moving. I also work with a trainer when I can. I do a ton of mobility work and a lot of functional movement stuff. As a surfer, you aren’t trying to put on muscle and be too buff. It’s important to have mobility.
What do you enjoy most about competing as a pro surfer?
The best part about competing on tour is all the places you get to travel to. They’re all the places I dreamed of surfing growing up. This is my fourth year on the WSL tour. All the people I’ve met and all the special places I get to go back to are a few of my favorite things. I’m living the dream.
Do you have a favorite surfboard that you’ve used in your career?
I got a Black Beauty for a trip to J-Bay. It’s a real traditional board, and Tom Curren was riding it when he was a pro. It’s a perfect board, and now I have it hanging on my wall. Magic boards help you grow as a surfer.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received, and how has it helped you?
I’ve received so much great advice over the years from different people I look up to. Hone in on what’s true to you—what you believe in and the person you want to be—by blocking out the noise, and ignoring the people who hate on what you’re doing or give you advice that’ll pull you in a different direction.
To keep up to date with the World Surf League: The next event on the Men’s Championship Tour is the Tahiti Pro Teahupo’o, going on August 21 – September 1, and the next stop on the Women’s Tour is the Freshwater Pro going from September 19 – 21. You can follow along the events live on WorldSurfLeague.com, the WSL App, and at Facebook.com/WSL.