Coffin, Peterson to take on world’s best for USA

Local Santa Barbara surfers Conner Coffin and Lakey Peterson were selected to the 2009 USA Surf Team last week, and in the process punched a ticket to the ISA World Junior Surfing Championships taking place in Ecuador from March 28 to April 5.

It’s Coffin’s second go-around in the prestigious competition, which brings together the upper-echelon of the worlds best under-18 surfers to represent thier countries and vie for Olympic-style medals.

As a 14 year old, Coffin placed fifth in the under-16 division at last year’s competition in Hossegor, France. A year older and wiser in 2009, and with teammates Evan Geiselman, Ian Crane and Kolohe Andino at his side, Coffin is eager to help the Americans improve on their fifth place finish last year.

“I’m super excited to be a part of it,” Coffin said about the opportunity to help the American team improve on their overall fifth place finish.

“I would expect in under-16 we’ll do damage,” said Joey Buran, the former WCT surfer who took over the USA Surf Team program two years ago.

For Peterson, the first-time selection is a confirmation of the 14 year old’s rapid rise in the world of competetive girls surfing. Peterson – a NSSA Nationals finalist – can legitimately say she is one of the top four under-18 female surfers in the mainland USA.

“It’s a great opportunity to get to go down there,” she said, ready to make her first splash in international competition.

This year’s contest is being held at a wave called La FAE located on a military base in the small Ecuadorian town of Salinas. It’s a left-hand point break that can pick up several swell directions and the forecast is hot and dry – a stark contrast to last year’s event held in wind and rain.

“I’m a regular foot and I never get to go left so I get to change it up a little bit,” remarked Peterson. “I’d rather have it be right, but left is cool too.”

Coffin is also a regular foot but says he’s comfortable surfing backside.

Since he’s been there, Buran has been working on installing a winning program, and who better to bring in than USC head football coach Pete Carroll to talk to the team about something he knows a little bit about: winning.

“It was super cool, he seemed like a rad guy,” Coffin said, adding that the coach’s advice was mostly about not worrying about what the competition would do, but rather having a solid game-plan and following through with it.

The traveling team is made up of four quadrants: Under-18 boys, Under-16 boys, Girls and alternates. With the level of talent this year, Team USA shouldn’t have any trouble making some noise.

BOYS UNDER 18

Nat Young

Evan Thompson

Fisher Heverly

Chase Wilson

Alternate: Balaram Stack

BOYS UNDER 16

Kolohe Andino

Conner Coffin

Evan Geiselman

Ian Crane

Alternate: Jacob Halstead and Colin Moran

GIRLS UNDER 18

Courtney Conlogue

Lakey Peterson

Kaleigh Gilchrist

Lani Doherty

Alternate: Taylor Pitz

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