Conner, as candid and honest as ever, breaking down some of his thoughts about joining the Traktor Team during an interview with Surfline:
What went into your decision to switch over to JS?
"Last year, I rode one of Ace Buchan’s boards at J-Bay and it felt really good. I had never really ridden any other boards my entire life, besides Channel Islands. I felt like I had been there so long, and I kinda needed to mix it up a little bit. We had been trying to make some new boards at CI for a while, and I wasn’t exactly getting the results I wanted – not in competition, but just the way the boards felt.
"Jason made me some boards when I went down to Australia in February. I got four, and one or two of them were pretty much magic. Those guys were super down to make me more. And with the whole COVID thing, I had plenty of time to ride through the boards and really dial them in.
"A lot of people keep saying, “they must be paying you more money.” But no, I just really love the boards. More than anything, it was just a great opportunity to work with JS, who has shaped for guys on tour and world champs for 25 years. He has so much experience. I think Al [Merrick] had that at Channel Islands – since he’s been gone, I haven’t really had that with someone who’s been doing it for a super long time. They’re all really good shapers [at CI], but JS just has so much experience with surfers on the tour."
Still, must’ve been hard leaving Channel Islands after all those years…
It was probably one of the hardest decisions I made in my entire life. When I got the boards from JS and they worked so well, I was almost bummed. [Laughs.] But I knew I had an opportunity. I was super open with the CI guys. They’ve done so much for me, and I’m so grateful for everything. I love CI, I love the brand, I have a lot of friends there. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. I didn’t want to burn any bridges with those guys. I still live here, and I still wanna be boys with all those guys.
Where are you really excited to try these boards out, once you can travel?
I’m super excited to go back to Australia and post up on the Gold Coast for a bit – work with JS, and surf with Joel and Mick. Besides that, I’d love to go back to J-Bay and ride one. Or a big day at Cloudbreak. Those are probably the two places that I’ve been missing surfing the most this year.
You’ve been pegged as a power surfer guy, but JS has a pretty strong roster of air guys with Julian, Mikey, Ryan…do these new boards make you wanna finesse your air game at all?
Oh, totally. Right when I got on them, there was this freshness to it. It really invigorated my surfing. They’ve sorta unlocked new parts of the wave for me, sorta given me a new freedom. That’s been inspiring me to try more progressive maneuvers. They have really good pop and tons of control in the air. I’ve always wanted to get better at airs and maybe this was the push I needed – because I kinda, really needed one for a while. [Laughs.]
Check the full feature over at Surfline here, and full board breakdowns below.
Conner (5'8" & 165lbs / 75kg)
HYFI Monsta Box 2020
5'9" x 19" x 2 5/16" x 27L
5'10" x 18 5/8" x 2 5/16" x 26.5L