Hometown: Long Island, NY
Home break: Gilgo Beach
Lives in: NY
Years Surfing: 10
Years Surfing in San Diego: 3
Surf Stance: Goofy Foot
Favorite Wave: Rincon
Local break: Crystal Pier, La Jolla Shores
Favorite Mexican Food: Taco Surf, they hook it up!
Favorite at Taco Surf: Gotta go with the California Burrito?
Job: Manager at South Coast Windansea, Accessories Buyer
Marital Status: Single (laughs)
Shout Outs: To Mike Detemple in Florida for influencing me, to Bird for showing me the ropes at the shop and in the water when I got to San Diego. Also to my friends at Gilgo Beach: James Hilbert, who taught me how to do the helicopter.
South Coast Windansea’s Best Kept Secret: Chris Koerner
by Robb Bailey
Chris Koerner looks like the average California kid. His walk is more of a stride than a mission to get somewhere. He has a laid-back stroll that most surfers walk with when the waves aren’t going off. He rides his 70’s retro skateboard to work from his nearby house in PB. His hands are tan, his hair is in place but uncombed, and he smiles often.
Then he talks.
Save this one very important detail, and any San Diego local would swear Chris grew up down the street from him. Long Island must have the most recognizable dialect on the planet, and Chris has not shaken this part of his hometown at all.
Not that he has to?the amateur longboarder has more than proven himself in the water. With wins at the 2006 T-Street event of the Christian Surf Series and at the 2006 Bunger Annual Surf Classic in Gilgo Beach, New York, Chris’ results speak for themselves.
“Back home I shortboarded for a couple of years, but then my friend Mike Detemple let me try his longboard one day while we were surfing. He got me into it. I kind of did it backwards (when I learned), shortboarded at first, then got into longboarding.”
And he’s been longboarding ever since. In 2006 Chris ranked 9th of 72 in the ASP Pro-Longboard Series. Currently he’s ranked 7th in the NSSA tour and plans on revisiting the ASP again this year.
Despite his impressive results in competitive surfing, Chris shows an extremely mature attitude towards the sport. His style clearly mirrors his respect for surfing history and lifestyle. When he talks about the lineup, he talks about respecting shortboarders. “I hate it when longboarders just sit outside and pick off all the good waves. It gives us a bad name. Everybody should be respectful in the water.”
Why does he prefer longboarding over shortboarding? It’s because of the noseriding. “With longboarding, you can do just as much stuff?but add noseriding. You can performance ride like on a shortboard or go classic. You have more versatility.”
Versatility is what won Chris the Tony Mezzadri Tricks on a Log contest in 2006. With a bag of tricks that includes a fin-first take-off and “the helicopter”, Chris takes advantage of the variety his longboard offers. Right now he’s riding South Coast’s CR-3 model (9″x 2.7″x 22″) with a thruster type 2 + 1 fin set-up. He uses an FCS 5-1/2″ center fin to compliment its rounded pintail for maximum performance. Soon he’ll be adding a South Coast retro 9’6″ to his quiver with a 10″ glass-on fin for a more classic ride. He’s asking for an extra-heavy glass job and expects the log to weigh around 40 pounds.
Home proved to be good for learning to surf, but Chris admits the west coast is definitely more his speed. “I love California, it’s so much more consistent here. And here there’s more surf culture, you can click with people better.”
Shop owner Eric “Bird” Huffman took Chris under his wing when he started at the shop two years ago. “Bird showed me the ropes–taught me what spots are good when there’s waves. He also helped me with board selection, he showed me some styles I didn’t know about; and that’s helped me deal with customers’ (needs) better.”
Chris is now a manager at the Windansea location and has no plans to leave soon, save a few yearly trips home. He heads east twice a year for some good home cooking and an August hurricane swell or two.
Although he hasn’t forgotten his roots, Chris seems to be in his element here in San Diego. He has become a local hero to several of South Coast’s shop employees. “Surfers should give longboarding a chance, it’s a lot more fun than it looks! It’s also not as easy to longboard on big waves. If you see someone throw around a nine foot board in overhead surf, people (in the lineup) should respect that. But I think shortboarders should longboard sometimes, they can keep progressing and fine-tune (their surfing).”
When asked if there’s anything else Chris wanted everyone to know about his surfing, what came was a smile and a laugh followed by a thoughtful pause. Then Chris summed up what he’s all about with a final comment in regards to longboarding:
“Remember your roots, that’s where surfing came from!”