SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. — The battle for the World Surf League World Title is coming to San Clemente, with the champion to be decided in a one-day, winner-take-all event.
The Rip Curl WSL Finals at Lower Trestles is the season-ending event of this year’s World Surf League Championship Tour. The event will feature the elite WSL Final 5 — the top five men and women on the WSL's Championship Tour Leaderboard at the end of the regular season — competing for the coveted World Title.
In the end, two surfers, one man and one woman, will be crowned World Champions and receive equal prize money. The “Super Bowl of Surfing” begins on September 9 and holds a competition window through September 17.
The only American vying for the title in the men’s category is Conner Coffin.
His love for nature extends beyond the water to the soil. As it turns out, the professional surfer has a green thumb and loves to spend time in his garden in Carpinteria.
“My favorite thing to grow is tomatoes because I love to cook Italian food,” Coffin said. “My grandma had a garden and my mom too.”
Coffin explained that gardening offers a way for him to disconnect.
“Kind of clears my mind. I don’t know, kind of in a weird way, meditation in a way,” he said.
It’s the same feeling he gets when he’s in the water.
“It’s like, as soon as I get in the water and I’m surfing, it’s just like everything else is just kind of gone,” Coffin said. “It’s like that nice peaceful feeling of being in the water and in nature.”
The first time he felt that love for surfing was when he was he was about 4 years old during a trip to Hawaii. His dad pushed him into a wave and from then on, Coffin said he was hooked.
“I came back and I started waking up my dad at 5:30 a.m. and I asked him to take me down to Rincon and push me into waves before kindergarten. And he’d do it.”
Eventually, Coffin was catching waves on his own. He started surfing competitively and won a national title at age 12. And now he’s going for the ultimate title of the WSL’s World Champion. He’s one of five men going for the title, ranked as the #4 surfer in the world.
“I guess I’m coming in as an underdog,” Coffin said. “So I don’t really have anything to lose.”
The competition will go down during a one-day event at Lower Trestles. Former San Clemente Mayor Chris Hamm said it makes sense the title matchups would be here in his hometown where he grew up surfing.
“San Clemente is the surfing hub of the world. I mean, we shape more boards here. We have more professional surfers residing here in San Clemente. The wave opportunity that we have here in Lowers is open to swell year-round,” he said.
Hamm said he’s excited to have a WSL CT event back in town after three years without one. “Everybody in town is very excited about it.”
The competitors includes the following:
WSL Final 5 - Women’s
- Carissa Moore (HAW) — Olympic Gold medalist and four-time WSL World Champion.
- Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA) — Fighting to become the first Brazilian woman to win a World Title.
- Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) — On a quest for her long-awaited first WSL Champion Title after being just shy of winning over the years.
- Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) — Seven-time WSL Champion with the chance of setting a new record and becoming the first woman to ever win eight World Titles.
- Johanne Defay (FRA) — Coming off a Jeep Surf Ranch Pro win in June, Defay would be the first European women’s World Champion if she wins the World Title.
WSL Final 5 - Men’s
- Gabriel Medina (BRA) — Two-time WSL Champion chasing his third Title, reinforcing his place as the best male surfer in the world. A win would make him the sixth male surfer to ever become a World Champion that many times.
- Italo Ferreira (BRA) — This reigning WSL Champion and Olympic Gold medalist has a chance of winning back-to-back World Titles and ending the year as one of the greatest seasons of all time in surfing history.
- Filipe Toledo (BRA) — Hunting his long-awaited first World Title, Brazil’s Toledo currently resides in San Clemente and won the last event at Trestles.
- Conner Coffin (USA) — Native Californian out of Santa Barbara attempting to lock his first World Title.
- Morgan Cibilic (AUS) — Has a chance of becoming the first-ever men’s rookie World Champion; a World Title would solidify his position as the new face of Australian surfing.
If Coffin wins, he would become the first American champion since 2011 and the first Californian World Title holder since 1990. He said, “I’m just excited to give it my all and have a good shot at it.”
The one-day competition will happen any day between September 9 and September 17. The World Surf League will be picking the best day for waves during that competition window. You can find more information here: hworldsurfleague.com/posts/482362/rip-curl-wsl-finals.