It was back in 1998 when the inaugural ASP World Pro Junior championships were held, with the departed Andy Irons being the first ever World Junior champ. Now, thirteen years later, the pro juniors of the world have their own tour. And the cornerstone of that tour still remains at the National Surfing Reserve of North Narrabeen in New South Wales, Australia.
We caught up with American seppo Conner Coffin to get his thoughts and insight into the biggest juniors event in the world. Conner's sitting at fifth in the rankings, tied with fellow countrymen and title hopefuls Nat Young and Evan Thompson.—Ryan Brower
The Billabong ASP World Junior Championships get underway January 8th and run till the 16th. Stay tuned to transworldsurf.com for full coverage and check out the event’s site at billabongpro.com/wjc10/.
TransWorld SURF: This is your first time getting the invite into the World Juniors, right?
Conner Coffin: Yeah this is my first year doing the World Juniors.
What got you there this year?
This year I missed qualifying for worlds by one spot. I had it going into the US Open and then totally choked in front of all of the people there and lost it… I was bummed. Luckily Oakley gave me the wildcard into the Bali event and since I did well there they decided to give me another shot here in Narrabeen.
Trying to carry over some momentum from that equal fifth in Bali?
Definitely. I felt really good in that event and was in a good mind space. I was motivated to do well and had a ton of fun surfing and cruising in Bali, which kept me relaxed. For me that is key in events—I can’t sit at the contest all day and watch heat after heat. I suffer from major anxiety when I do this and end up choking when my heat comes around. I have to check out.
Have you ever been to Narrabeen before?
Nope, that's why I came over a week before the event to try and figure this place out. It is a rad little town and has a good feel to it.
What's the wave like there? Have you been getting some surfs in at the famed North Narrabeen sandbanks to get familiar?
The waves here are really fun. Narrabeen is a super slammable little beachie. I find it especially fun on my backhand. The waves have had their moments the past few days, but we’ve also had some pretty junky conditions. Everyone has been talking about how good it gets here so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that we get some fun waves for the comp.
These are the best juniors in the world, yourself included. Does it mean more than a regular comp or do you just approach it as usual?
This contest definitely means more than just a typical one. There aren’t too many contests that include all of the best juniors in such a small field. I try to approach these contests like I would any other though. For me it’s all about feeling comfortable and having some sort of routine.
Jack Freestone is coming in as the number one ranking, is he the guy to beat?
Yeah, I guess you could say Jacky is the guy to beat at the moment—I mean he is leading the rankings. I really dig Jack and he is a great surfer. But I honestly think that everyone in this contest is totally capable of winning. It’s just like any other contest in that it will come down to who gets the waves and can keep some momentum going throughout the whole event. That’s always the interesting part about surf contests: someone can go berserk three heats in a row but then run across a 20 minute flat spell and be totally ousted.
And the chicks' side of things?
The girls are pretty intimidating these days. If I walk down the beach and I see like more than three of them out there is a good chance I’m walking up the beach with my tail between my legs instead of going out and getting embarrassed. Tyler Wright seems to be quite the one to beat these days. Sage [Erickson] has some upper body weight that enables her to throw some mean hacks… But there is always Laura [Enever] with the home court advantage and looking to repeat.
Lastly, what's the scene like in Narrabeen? Lots of youngwisetails skimping around in bikinis looking for American seppos?
The scene here is rad. It seems to be a mellow little town with a good vibe. But, not to be fooled by the mellowness of the town, there are definitely copious amounts of tail running around this corner of the world. I went to Bondi for New Years Eve and my mind was pretty much permanently imprinted with images of gorgeous women. Lets just say it’s going to be a good month…