Pro Surfer Conner Coffin Stars in Documentary “Mind Surfing”

By Mia Groeninger

“Mind Surfing,” the recently released documentary by 805 Beer, captures professional surfer Conner Coffin as he reflects on how his hometown of Santa Barbara shaped his identity.

Coffin, the 29-year-old who was ranked #4 in the world in 2021, talked with edhat about the film and catching his first wave. Every surfer can relate to the pure rush of adrenaline when catching waves. The feeling that maybe the next wave is too big, but you go for it anyways.

“I remember always yelling at my dad saying ‘no, this one is too big!’ And he would push me anyways. Sure enough, I would pop up and the rush of adrenaline would quickly overcome any nerves that I was feeling and I would instantly focus on how much fun I was having,” Coffin said.

From that first wave at four years old in Kauai, Coffin was hooked. He began waking up at 4:00 am for dawn patrols, checking weather patterns, and getting out on the water whenever he had the chance. He describes the feeling of not “fitting in” and getting awful migraines when he was younger. It simply felt better to be in, on, and around the water, from surfing to boating and fishing, he loved everything to do with the ocean. 

“Surfing has always been an outlet for me and as I got better, it became my main source of self expression,” he said, “Anytime I can get in the water I just feel a sense of peace and clarity which helps me tackle the rest of life outside of the water.”

The film focuses Coffin’s love and inspiration deriving from his hometown, specifically Rincon. Referred to as the “Queen of the Coast,” this Carpinteria surf spot is one of the most famous in California. Not only does it produce a legendary wave, but it has a tight knit folowwing with an authentic surf style.

“Santa Barbara has really groomed me into the person I am today from the place, the people, and the waves,” Coffin said. Rincon specifically had an immense influence on him, from the surfers he grew up watching to the lessons of respect and humility. He emulated local champions such as Tom Curren, Dane Reynolds, and Bobby Martinez. He was always told, “Let your surfing do the talking.” 

Courtesy of 805 Beer

Competing and surf touring can be a great experience, but it is very different from surfing for fun, Coffin said. After a big loss one year, he became discouraged and lost sight of why he loved the sport. He contemplated quitting altogether. Yet, with the encouragement of his brother, he decided he would try several more events. He was up against surfers he had been watching his whole life, and it was surreal to be competing against many pros who were fighting to keep their titles, but Coffin had nothing to lose. He continued to work hard and beat two of the best surfers at the Rip Curl Pros competition when he was just 22-years-old.

Coffin is currently competing on the Challenger series in an attempt to requalify for the Men’s Championship Tour. If he does not go on tour, he has a lot of ideas for what he would like to pursue. He is hoping to produce another film with 805, as well as become more involved in ocean conservation and nutrition.

“I really feel a sense of adventure to try and get off the beaten path and find some unexplored stretches of coastline. I’m really passionate about surfing, the ocean, food, culture, and fishing so I would love to come up with a way to combine these passions into something,” he said. He also wants to give back to future generations of surfers, through teaching the sport, as well as instilling the values that were bestowed upon him as a kid.

Courtesy of 805 Beer

Coffin has always been fascinated by Santa Barbara’s rich culture, deeply rooted in Chumash history. He’s done a great deal of traveling, seeing many places all over the world and gaining perspective, but wherever he goes, he is always drawn back to his roots in Santa Barbara.

“All of these things and more just keep me enamored with our coastline. I love the adventures that lay close to home. When I’m on the road I miss that sense of community at home, the beautiful coastline, and just all of the adventures and waves that I know are within hours of Santa Barbara,” Coffin said. 

The short film, directed by surfer and documentarist Keith Malloy (“Fishpeople,” “Come Hell or High Water”), premiered at the Vans US Open of Surfing in Huntington Beach on August 3, 2022 and went public online two days later, see below. It’s part of a partnership between Firestone Walker Brewery and the World Surf League. 


Written by Mia Groeninger

Mia Groeninger is a local high school student and intern at edhat.

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