CJ Hobgood Wins O’Neill SI Pro — Takes WQS Ratings Lead

SEBASTIAN INLET, Florida (Thursday, January 11th, 2007) — CJ Hobgood (Melbourne Beach, FL) won the O’Neill SI Pro presented by Ron Jon today defeating opponents Gabe Kling (St. Augustine, FL), Asher Nolan (Jacksonville, FL) and Shea Lopez (Indian Rocks Beach, FL) in an all-Floridian final.

The Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) World Qualifying Series (WQS) four-star event served as the ASP WQS season opener rendering event champion CJ Hobgood as the current leader on the ASP WQS ratings.

“I’m super stoked right now. It was the first event of the year and it’s a great way to build momentum, Hobgood said. “It was an incredible final. All those boys are ripping and it could have gone any way.

Hobgood, former ASP World Champ, surfed with speed and consistency unmatched by his opponents as he blasted through the shifty 2′-3′ beachbreak peaks.

“I was a bit bummed my brother (Damien) lost out this morning, Hobgood said. “But he won last year and I’m stoked that I could keep it in the family. It’s a great way to begin the year and I couldn’t be happier.

Gabe Kling, 2007 Foster’s ASP World Tour rookie, narrowly missed out on the title losing by .07 points. Even so, the progressive natural-footer amazed the crowd with his mastery of the dumpy beachbreaks exhibiting his world tour form on both his forehand and backhand.

“It’s the first event of the year and I’ve never done well here so I’m really happy, Kling said. “I’m off to Brazil next to stay sharp and keep plugging away on the WQS.

Kling’s runner-up finish will be an excellent confidence boost heading into his rookie season among surfing’s elite.

“I’m going to be surfing against these guys all year long so it’s good for me to make a final with them, Kling said. “CJ (Hobgood) is still a world champ and I haven’t beat him yet — he’s beat me a few times. But I’m still really happy.

Shea Lopez, former Foster’s ASP World Tour top-10 stalwart, looked better than he had in years as he blazed his way to a third-place finish. The 32-year old goofy-footer is happy with his finish as he sets up for a year on the WQS.

“It was such a stacked final, Lopez said. “You had CJ (Hobgood) and Gabe (Kling) who are both on tour this year and Asher (Nolan) always rips. I’m stoked to start out the year like this and I’m just going to focus on the WQS and keep trying to build up points for the Foster’s ASP World Tour.

Asher Nolan picked off the event high single wave score in the final of a 9.33 out of a possible 10. Unfortunately for Nolan, he was unable to find a backup score and was relegated to a fourth place finish.

“I’m happy with making the finals, but I’m a bit disappointed that I couldn’t find that backup score, Nolan said. “I had the 9.33 in the first few minutes and just couldn’t pick off another one.

ASP WQS surfers will next be heading to Brazil as everyone continues their campaigns for a spot professional surfing’s ultimate Dream Tour, the Foster’s ASP World Tour.

The next stop on the ASP North America tour will be the Billabong Pro Junior at Sebastian Inlet taking place from March 3-4, 2007.

The next ASP North America men’s event will be the ASP WQS four-star Van’s Pier Classic presented by Jack’s Surfboards from March 21st-25th, 2007 at Huntington Beach California.

For more information, log onto www.aspnorthamerica.org.

RESULTS: DAY SEVEN O’Neill SI Pro presented by Ron Jon — ASP WQS four-star
Round Six: 32 surfers remain (1st and 2nd advance)
Heat 1: Gabe Kling (USA) 13.67, Dave Reardon-Smith (AUS) 13.07, Shaun Burrell (USA) 11.50, Tonino Benson (HAW) 8.33
Heat 2: Nathaniel Curran (USA) 13.03, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 11.16, Brett Simpson (USA) 11.07, Cory Arrambide (USA) 7.63
Heat 3: Asher Nolan (USA) 13.00, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 12.26, Ola Eleogram (HAW) 11.67, David Awbrey (USA) 7.70
Heat 4: Mikael Picon (FRA) 13.33, Daniel Jones (HAW) 10.30, Adam Virs (USA) 66.10, Damien Hobgood (USA) 5.62
Heat 5: Mike Losness (USA) 10.27, Nathan Carroll (HAW) 7.00, Dustin Barca (HAW) 6.73, Eric Geiselman (USA) 5.73
Heat 6: Nathan Yeomans (USA) 14.83, Jeremy Johnston (USA) 10.43, Ryan Helm (USA) 10.30, Ben Bourgeois (USA) 8.60
Heat 7: Shea Lopez (USA) 11.84, Bryan Hewitson (USA) 11.83, Yuri Sodre (BRA) 9.56, Kellen Ellison (USA) 7.50
Heat 8: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 17.26, Shaun Ward (USA) 11.67, Roy Powers (HAW) 10.60, Jesse Merle-Jones (HAW) 5.24

Quarterfinals: 16 surfers remain (1st and 2nd advance)
QF 1: Daniel Jones (HAW) 16.00, Gabe Kling (USA) 13.77, Tanner Gudauskas (USA) 10.26, Nathaniel Curran (USA) 10.10
QF 2: Asher Nolan (USA) 15.10, Dave Reardon-Smith (AUS) 11.77, Mikael Picon (FRA) 11.60, Patrick Gudauskas (USA) 6.34
QF 3: Bryan Hewitson (USA) 13.67, Mike Losness (USA) 11.53, Nathan Yeomans (USA) 9.97, Sean Ward (USA) 7.00
QF 4: CJ Hobgood (USA) 14.10, Shea Lopez (USA) 10.06, Jeremy Johnston (USA) 9.50, Nathan Carroll (HAW) 7.24

Semifinals: 8 surfers remain (1st and 2nd advance)
SF 1: Gabe Kling (USA) 15.83, Asher Nolan (USA) 12.37, Daniel Jones (HAW) 11.53, Dave Reardon-Smith (AUS) 9.77
SF 2: CJ Hobgood (USA) 16.84, Shea Lopez (USA) 13.50, Bryan Hewitson (USA) 12.53, Mike Losness (USA) 11.47

Final:
1 — C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.90
2 — Gabe Kling (USA) 14.83
3 — Shea Lopez (USA) 14.27
4 — Asher Nolan (USA) 13.16