Look out, here comes Parker Cohn


After winning three trophies at the National Scholastic Surfing Assn. (NSSA) Western Regional Championships, Parker Cohn created quite the buzz around him.

Could he be the next great surfer to come out of Newport Beach?

Cohn, an intelligent and creative 17-year-old, plans to answer the question in the near future. After just five years of competitive surfing, it is safe to say he is just scratching the surface of fulfilling his potential.

Yes, he just might be the next great surfer to come out of Newport Beach.

At the NSSA Western Regional Championships at Huntington Beach Pier, Cohn established himself as an elite young surfer and carries the No. 1 seed into the NSSA National Championships, which begin Monday back at HB.


Cohn (pronounced “cone”) won the Explorer Junior Division title and finished runner-up in the Explorer Men’s Open Division and the premiere Men’s Open Division at the Western Regional Championships on May 21.

“I try not to let it get to my head,” Cohn said a week before competing in the 18U Division at the USA Surfing Championships, where he ended up reaching the quarterfinals at Lower Trestles on June 22.

Cohn simply continues to work hard at his craft. That means he surfs every day, and three times a week he performs rigorous cross-fit training. He attended Sage Hill School three years ago before deciding to become a home-school student for Halstrom Academy to dedicate more time to traveling and competing in the name of surf, also with Newport Beach in mind.

“I love to represent this city,” said Cohn, who enjoys surfing the Wedge. “I’ve lived here my entire life and I love it here. Newport Beach is practically the best place you can grow up as a surfer.”

Parker Cohn of Newport Beach will compete in the NSSA National Championships starting Monday at Huntington Beach Pier.
(Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

Soccer had dominated Cohn’s life throughout his childhood. Surfing and skateboarding were hobbies for him during that time, when he competed for Newport Mesa Soccer Club. But when he turned 12, Cohn decided to take on competitive surfing.

At first it really did not seem to be a wise choice. He struggled and saw that he was behind many of his peers who had started the path toward pro surfing at a much younger age.

But then when Cohn was 14, he began to show promise and great talent. He finished equal-seventh at the NSSA National Championships 16U Division.

“That was when he really started to think he could do this,” said Cohn’s father, Rich.

That was also when Hurley took notice and agreed to sponsor him. But last year, Cohn felt that a change was needed and he agreed to a two-year sponsorship with RVCA, which like Hurley is based in Costa Mesa.

“I absolutely love what RVCA is representing at the moment,” Cohn said. “A lot of the older guys on the team are guys I look up to, Bruce Irons, Luke Davis and Colin Moran, and the list goes on and on.”

Cohn admires many surfers, and knows a lot of them have more experience than him. But he wants to set himself apart from them.

He is a different type of surfer. He has many goals when it comes to the waves and his board. Within the next five years, he wants to be on the World Championship Tour.

But there’s more.

“I think surfing is a platform,” he said. “It’s like any other art form. You have a canvas and you have the ability to create whatever you’re really thinking about in the moment.”

Out of the water, he has other plans.

“I just want to be able to use my talent to create different projects, videos and content that I feel represent what I’m thinking and what’s going on in the industry,” Cohn said. “I just want to take surfing in a different route than it’s been in a long time. I want to use surfing to inspire a lot of people who can’t surf, who are land-locked and can’t go in the ocean. I want to be able to inspire and entertain all the people. I want to make the audience more broad and expand on surfing.”

When Cohn isn’t surfing or training, or traveling, or studying, he enjoys hanging out with friends from his neighborhood. Most of them attend Corona del Mar High School.

It’s interesting for Cohn to see those friends because he receives a glimpse of a typical life, or as he described, “normal.”

He admits his life is unique with trips for competition to Mexico and winter training in Hawaii, among many other travels.

“I see a kid who is super driven,” Rich Cohn said of his son. “He works so hard, in and out of the water. He is working with the trainers, doing the right diet and his head is in the right place. I think the sky is the limit for the kid. He’s small for his age now. But I think he is starting to grow and will get bigger in the next year or two. He’s going to get bigger and stronger. He has a lot of potential in that regard and everyone knows it.”

If they don’t know it, they will soon find out.

Twitter: @SteveVirgen