C.J. Hobgood Interview

C.J. Hobgood Interview

“God just has me picked out.”

“I have the best friends in the world, and I have a shelter. I have water and food whenever I want it, and I’m able to travel around the world–in that sense, I’m the richest man in the world.”

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“I’ll go out at night if I’m having a bad run and totally blow it.”

C.J. Hobgood Pro Spotlight

By Aaron Checkwood

C.J. Hobgood has both an ally and a nemesis in going full-bore–the instinct that drove the young Floridian to charge his way into a world championship title. When C.J. gets excited or passionate about something, he doesn’t think–he just goes, no matter what the consequences. It’s how he approaches surfing. And for a while, it’s how he approached life.

For any kid growing up as a professional surfer, the dark side of going all-out can be a hindrance–a foe C.J. admits to giving in to despite a strong belief in God. When the ASP’s Top 44 (some of the world’s best partiers) are 44 of your best friends and mentors, you’re bound to join in–especially as an instinctual charger.

As you’ll soon learn, he’s grown up–fast. Not only did he get married soon after this interview, but he’s learned to wrangle those on-tour inner demons and focus them on the waves. There’s a lot more to C.J. Hobgood besides a world championship and a twin brother named Damien, and in his good-hearted manner, he let us know.

The first time I ever met you, we went snowboarding.

I’m going snowboarding tomorrow morning.

We were boarding, and you and your brother started charging everything, and you knocked your head against a rail. Do you always just go full-bore with whatever you do?

Yeah, that’s just kind of the way I’ve been with things I love to do. I just get excited–it’s the same way I was with surfing when I was a little kid. It’s the same way with snowboarding, because I enjoy it so much. It’s not really charging–it’s more like excitement for something I don’t do much. I just gotta try it.

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Your first season on the North Shore was 1995. You’d never been there before–the biggest place you’d been was Costa Rica–and all of a sudden you’re going for it and getting hurt. How was that? Were you prepared?

I wasn’t prepared. It was the best thing, and I wasn’t prepared for it. The only person I really talked to was my brother. We didn’t really expect anything, and I didn’t really think about it too much–I just went over there and had fun.

Have you always been religious? Is it a big part of your life?

Yeah, totally. My mom teaches Sunday school. God just has me picked out. No matter where I go or what I do, or if I’m running with a different crowd, it’s like he always throws someone to have a relationship with Jesus right in front of my face. I’ve never been able to get away from it since I was a little kid. I tried to fight it for a long time, and over the last couple years I’ve just let him work in me. I wouldn’t say I’m religious because there’re so many religious people I don’t agree with–the things they do. I try to have relationships with people and Jesus Christ–that’s about it. I don’t really like religion (laughs).

Do you call yourself a Christian then?

You can call me a lot of other things, but Christian would probably be the nice thing to call me (laughs).

Do you ever blame God for losing a heat? Did you give him credit when you won the title?

Yeah, I totally gave him credit. It’s funny, because a lot of times this year I’d have a really, really good heat despe losing and I’d know he’s teaching me patience. I’ll come in and just have a smile on my face like, “Oh, I guess things aren’t going my way.” Then I’ll say, “Oh, I just had a bad heat,” but I’m really just laughing inside going, “Teach me patience.” (Laughs.)

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On tour everybody goes nuts–literally. Is that hard on you and your beliefs?

Yeah, I’m gonna fall on my face. I go nuts and do the same thing everyone else does–I’m no different from anyone else. The tour’s totally hard. I’ll go out at night if I’m having a bad run and totally blow it. I guess the only difference is that I ask for forgiveness the next morning laughs . I’ll feel bad headache-wise, but I also feel bad the other way, too.

You’re getting married next week. You could have sex with any girl anywhere in the world because of who you are. Has that always been hard on you?

It’s definitely been hard on me laughs . How could any kind of sex not be hard on someone? If you’re having sex with every girl in the world, and you’re a porno star, sex is still hard. You’re still gonna fiend it whether you do it once or a hundred times. It’s the hardest thing–I blow it, and I give into temptation, but I’ve come a long way in the last couple years. I definitely have troubles with it, but I don’t act on my instincts like I used to.

Is that just knowledge coming from touring and age?

I wouldn’t say knowledge coming from touring, but knowledge coming from being with girls growing up–realizing how many knuckleheads there are out there, and then finally finding the perfect girl. Obviously she can have the best rig, but it’s so hard to find a cool girl that’s smart and on my same level of joking around and being stupid. I’m an idiot, and I can’t do a lot of things. For them to do all things I can’t do and help me out is how I know I got everything I want.

Are you abstinent?

I’ve been trying to be since I’ve been planning on getting married. Like I said, I gave in a couple years ago, and I’ve totally been trying to do God’s will. No, I haven’t been abstinent. I’ve blown it a bunch, but I know my girl and I have been trying our hardest before we get married to do it right. Because I want that marriage day to be insane–it’ll be the best thing in the world.

I can totally relate. I’m abstinent, but not by my own choice.

Not by your own free will (laughs )?

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For Christians, when it comes to abstinence what’s the cutoff–first or second base?

I don’t even know. You know what the limit is–it’s where you are in your walk with God . If you’re at your walk where you can just go pretty hard and not feel this ten-pound weight on your heart. It’s just wherever you’re at with your relationship. I don’t know all the rules–the rules are with you and God and Jesus.

Is your brother as dedicated as you, or does he visit the dark side?

Yeah, he goes to a tarot-card reader every week and she tells him the future. No, I’m just playing around. Yeah, he has a relationship with him. He tries his best and blows it all the time just like I do. He wants to go to heaven–probably as bad as I do.

What about the Outsiders (Christian surf video) project–were you close to that?

Yeah, I wanted to be a part of that. Jesse (Schluntz) called me and said he had this idea. I just prayed about it and totally wanted to do it. I wanted to help him out. I thought it was a good video–not my part, but I thought it was a good video overall.

Are you rich?

I’m so filthy rich. “You know why Rusty doesn’t have a surf team? Because C.J.’s filthy rich.” I heard that one a lot last year. I do what I love to do–I love to surf. The money is insane. I’m able to do things, help my friends, and have a wonderful life because I get to travel and surf. I don’t think it’s ’cause of the money, but the money does take away a lot of pressures–I have no stress. All I have to do is go out there, make heats, get photos, and talk to you guys.

The worst part.

I love what I do, and if I didn’t get paid, I’d still surf. That’s for dang sure.

Is money changing you in any way?

Yeah, it’s changing me with responsibilities. I read something by Bill Gates where he said it’s harder to spend his money right than it was to make it. I can blow my money–that would be the easy thing to do. I have the best friends in the world, and I have a shelter. I have water and food whenever I want it, and I’m able to travel around the world–in that sense, I’m the richest man in the world. By the time I pay my taxes and everybody else, I’m just able to live comfortably.

Is the marriage gonna affect your life?

Yeah, but I know it’s gonna affect it in a good way. I know I’m gonna be able to focus on things that I normally wouldn’t be able to do, whether it’s some other sport–I’m just gonna be that much clearer. I’m stoked, I want to have a family and see little kids running around. I want them to surf and do what they want to do.

How many kids are you gonna have?

Probably like 50. Nah, I don’t know if I can have kids–I’ll have to find that out first.

Is that a result of the abstinence?

Yeah, the little guys don’t work anymore.

They’re crippled?

Probably from just racking myself so many times. Nah, I think they work–the last time I tested them out they worked. I could see the quote on the front of the magazine, “C.J. tests out his balls.”

Do you think you can win the world title again?

I totally think I can. I have to think that way. Even when I’m on my last year, about to retire, I still have to think that way. I think my surfing all around can hold up to most of the guys on tour.

There’re a lot of guys that surf so freakin’ good out there nowadays. You can go to any ’CT, and no matter how easy the heat looks on paper, when you show up it’s gonna be a hard heat. You gotta have your head together and get on a roll. You can ask Andy–things were going his way, and he just took advantage of it every way he could.

Does it bother you that there’s an asterisk next to your world championship with the cancellation of some events and that 2001 wasn’t a complete season?

That might bother me if they said it to my face. I didn’t make the rules. I just surf, and I’m on tour to win. When I show up for a contest, I don’t think about winning a world title–I think about winning that contest.

Who do you think’s gonna win the next five world titles?

I think five different people will win the next five world titles, and it’ll be a beautiful thing.

Was your dad, Clifton Senior, strict on you guys?

Well yeah, he spanked me and threw me across the room and stuff I totally needed. Man, he’s the coolest guy in the world. Growing up I had so much respect–and I still do–for my father. He’s like a great friend. He was strict growing up, and now that I’m older I can respect him for that and I’m best friends with him.

When was the last time you took a bath with Damo?

Probably about two days ago. No, I don’t think I ever took a ich. “You know why Rusty doesn’t have a surf team? Because C.J.’s filthy rich.” I heard that one a lot last year. I do what I love to do–I love to surf. The money is insane. I’m able to do things, help my friends, and have a wonderful life because I get to travel and surf. I don’t think it’s ’cause of the money, but the money does take away a lot of pressures–I have no stress. All I have to do is go out there, make heats, get photos, and talk to you guys.

The worst part.

I love what I do, and if I didn’t get paid, I’d still surf. That’s for dang sure.

Is money changing you in any way?

Yeah, it’s changing me with responsibilities. I read something by Bill Gates where he said it’s harder to spend his money right than it was to make it. I can blow my money–that would be the easy thing to do. I have the best friends in the world, and I have a shelter. I have water and food whenever I want it, and I’m able to travel around the world–in that sense, I’m the richest man in the world. By the time I pay my taxes and everybody else, I’m just able to live comfortably.

Is the marriage gonna affect your life?

Yeah, but I know it’s gonna affect it in a good way. I know I’m gonna be able to focus on things that I normally wouldn’t be able to do, whether it’s some other sport–I’m just gonna be that much clearer. I’m stoked, I want to have a family and see little kids running around. I want them to surf and do what they want to do.

How many kids are you gonna have?

Probably like 50. Nah, I don’t know if I can have kids–I’ll have to find that out first.

Is that a result of the abstinence?

Yeah, the little guys don’t work anymore.

They’re crippled?

Probably from just racking myself so many times. Nah, I think they work–the last time I tested them out they worked. I could see the quote on the front of the magazine, “C.J. tests out his balls.”

Do you think you can win the world title again?

I totally think I can. I have to think that way. Even when I’m on my last year, about to retire, I still have to think that way. I think my surfing all around can hold up to most of the guys on tour.

There’re a lot of guys that surf so freakin’ good out there nowadays. You can go to any ’CT, and no matter how easy the heat looks on paper, when you show up it’s gonna be a hard heat. You gotta have your head together and get on a roll. You can ask Andy–things were going his way, and he just took advantage of it every way he could.

Does it bother you that there’s an asterisk next to your world championship with the cancellation of some events and that 2001 wasn’t a complete season?

That might bother me if they said it to my face. I didn’t make the rules. I just surf, and I’m on tour to win. When I show up for a contest, I don’t think about winning a world title–I think about winning that contest.

Who do you think’s gonna win the next five world titles?

I think five different people will win the next five world titles, and it’ll be a beautiful thing.

Was your dad, Clifton Senior, strict on you guys?

Well yeah, he spanked me and threw me across the room and stuff I totally needed. Man, he’s the coolest guy in the world. Growing up I had so much respect–and I still do–for my father. He’s like a great friend. He was strict growing up, and now that I’m older I can respect him for that and I’m best friends with him.

When was the last time you took a bath with Damo?

Probably about two days ago. No, I don’t think I ever took a bath with him. I know my parents used to do some funny stuff to tell us apart.

What’s the best way to tell the difference between you two besides the laminates on your boards?

People ask that question all the time, and I don’t really know. I guess the best way is to just guess.

Do you see yourself being like an Occy or Tom Carroll in your later years?

To tell you the truth, I doubt it because those guys went through a time when they were making the sport. We’re just going with the flow. People ask me, “How do you view yourself?” and that’s one thing I’ve always had trouble doing. I can tell you what I think about Occy and Tom–how much I look up to those guys, and how much they’ve achieved. If you do it yourself, you don’t think you achieved anything.

I was playing golf with this guy today. He’s a Navy Seal, and he said he’s died twice. He was the first in his class as a Navy Seal. I told myself, “That’s gnarlier than winning a world title. That guy’s been through more crap than I’ll ever dream of.” That was his job. I don’t know how people view me, but I can tell you how I view other people. I thought that guy had won three world titles in my eyes for the crap he’d been through. I don’t know how much impact I have, but I just hope it’s a good impact.

k a bath with him. I know my parents used to do some funny stuff to tell us apart.

What’s the best way to tell the difference between you two besides the laminates on your boards?

People ask that question all the time, and I don’t really know. I guess the best way is to just guess.

Do you see yourself being like an Occy or Tom Carroll in your later years?

To tell you the truth, I doubt it because those guys went through a time when they were making the sport. We’re just going with the flow. People ask me, “How do you view yourself?” and that’s one thing I’ve always had trouble doing. I can tell you what I think about Occy and Tom–how much I look up to those guys, and how much they’ve achieved. If you do it yourself, you don’t think you achieved anything.

I was playing golf with this guy today. He’s a Navy Seal, and he said he’s died twice. He was the first in his class as a Navy Seal. I told myself, “That’s gnarlier than winning a world title. That guy’s been through more crap than I’ll ever dream of.” That was his job. I don’t know how people view me, but I can tell you how I view other people. I thought that guy had won three world titles in my eyes for the crap he’d been through. I don’t know how much impact I have, but I just hope it’s a good impact.