Hobgood Pro Spotlight

C.J. and Damien Hobgood decide they can’t fight nature.

One of the hardest things in a young man’s life is finding his place in society. It’s a struggle that everyone goes through at one point or another. Clifton James Hobgood (C.J.) and his brother Damien are no exception. While their lives may seem idyllic and easy from the outside, it hasn’t always been like that. They had to go through the same trials and tribulations as the rest of us. The only difference is they are identical twins, and it’s no easy feat to carve an identity for yourself when your brother is the spitting image of yourself.

The Hobgoods’ enormous success didn’t come overnight. They fought, argued, and battled to be different people. However, after recently signing a five-year deal with Globe, they’ve come to the realization that they are what they are-identical twins.

The result of this “awakening” has been stellar performances on the WCT from both Damien and C.J. These boys are on a serious roll. And as Damien and C.J. both put it: “We’re having more fun surfing at this point in life than ever before.”

This interview was conducted above a fishpond over the course of two evenings during the Billabong Pro in Tahiti.

TransWorld SURF: First off, when did you guys come into this world?

C.J.: July 6, 1979.Who came out first?

C.J.: I did. It was a cesarean, so whichever one they decided to grab first was first. I was born a minute early they say, but they just reached in and I was the first one they felt, I guess.

Where did you guys grow up?

C.J.: Satellite Beach, Florida.

What are some of your earliest memories of surfing?

C.J.: I caught a wave, went straight, and hopped all the way to the beach-thinking I did like five turns. Then, the other cool thing I remember was when I learned to kick my board out the back of the wave. It took me so long to do because my board was so big. Another memory I have is of Damien. He had a newer board than I did, so my dad brought home a new Ron Jon surfboard for me. Damien was so mad he locked himself in the bathroom and cried (laughs).

Damien: I wouldn’t let anyone in.

C.J.: I kept telling him, “It’s okay, it’s okay, don’t worry!” He wouldn’t let anyone in the bathroom forever, and then my dad came home a couple days later with a new board for Damien.

Is your dad a surfer himself?

Damien: Yeah, he surfs. He grew up in North Carolina, five hours from the beach. He used to tell us how he would sit at home and just dream about living by the beach. He and his buddy would have to drive five hours out to Hatteras if they wanted to go surf-that was their trip. They would scrounge money, get all their funds together, and drive out to Hatteras and camp out there and surf and stuff, so yeah he always surfed.

C.J.: He moved to Florida to surf and ended up teaching us how to surf.

Damien: He kind of took a little break (from surfing) when he first had us-he kind of had to slow down a little bit. But then, right when we were able to surf, he got back into it.

Do you guys have other siblings?

C.J.: We have a little brother and a little sister. My sister is a ballet dancer and my brother plays soccer in college.

Damien: What’s kind of funny about our little brother is that, I don’t know if he didn’t like surfing because we did it, but when he was young, he was fully anti-surfing.

My brother was like that when we were growing up, too.

C.J.: We’d be like, “Take my board out surfing! Do this, do that,” and he’s like, “I don’t surf, I don’t surf.”

Damien: Then all of the sudden around nineteen he started surfing. And now he absolutely loves it. I’ll have boards in the house, and he’s like “Do you like this board?

” And I’m like, “No, not really. You can have it.” And he’s like, “Really?

” I called him the other day, and he had this board at the house, and he’s like, “I think this is going to be good for me,” and I’m like, “Yeah, you can have it.” He’s amped now. It’s nda funny how he’s gone full circle.

When did you guys begin surfing competitively?

Damien: I remember when we were eleven or twelve there was a local contest we did, and we both ended up getting last. It was just a mini-final, but we got a trophy and were super psyched. Surfing was slowly offered to us by our parents. It was cool because they never pressured us-it was always if we wanted to go, go.

Your dad wasn’t the Little League screamer type?

Damien: He knew that we put a lot of pressure on ourselves and he wanted to remove that, so he’d say stuff like, “It doesn’t matter how you do, just as long as your having fun, and no matter what happens, we love you, and if you want to quit, quit.”

Back in your grom days, who did you guys look up to?

C.J.: We totally looked up to Cory (Lopez). Actually, we looked up to pretty much every one. We were a couple years younger, and we were pretty slow. We never turned heads, but we were always striving to be good, and maybe that’s one of the reasons why we are the way we are today. It seems like it’s been that way our whole life, even to this day-we’ve never had everything given to us. Everything we have, we had to work for it and really it want for ourselves.

What was your family life like back then?

Damien: The way my parents could get away from everything was to go to the beach. We asked them recently, “Why did you guys take us to the beach every day?” They said, “It was the best thing. We’d go to the beach, Mom could read a book and relax, and you guys would get super tired and fall asleep right when we got home.”

So the beach was sort of like a baby-sitter?

C.J.: Yeah, it worked. You know, they never really had that much money, so I take my hat off to them this day. I don’t know how they raised four kids on that kind of budget and made ends meet.

Most twins seem kind of silent and creepy to me-like they know something I don’t. Do you find that to be true or just a stereotype?

C.J.: We’re the opposite. When we were kids, we were too loud and asked too many questions. I remember Daren Brilhart was the team manager for Rusty, and we were fifteen years old and riding in the car asking tons of questions. Finally, he’s like, “Man, you guys ask too many questions, you gotta stop it!” (Laughs) So we were the opposite of what you’re saying.

Damien: That’s funny you say that, because you never know how people might perceive you until you can see it the way they see it. We see twins that look so much alike we can’t tell the difference, and we’re like, “Gosh, those guys are kinda weird.” So we kind of can experience how others experience us.

C.J.: It freaks us out when we see crazy twins. We’re like, “Oh great, that’s what people think about us.”

Damien: Sometimes we hang out with twins and just cannot tell them apart. It’s weird. I look at them and I’m like, “Those guys are freaky.” Then I’m thinking to myself, “That’s the same way people are looking at you!” It just makes me laugh.

When my brother and I were younger we went at it pretty good a couple times. What about you guys?

Was fighting ever a problem or was it just normal brother-bashing?

C.J.: We shared a room when we were growing up-a pretty small room. I remember we would get so mad at each other, and we’d draw lines down the middle of the room and be like, “This is my side and this is your side. Don’t cross that line or you’re gonna get it.” I’d be watching TV, and he would want to listen to the radio, you know?

So this one time, I was trying to watch TV while he was blaring the radio, and I remember jumping off the bed, doing a running sidekick, and nailing the radio, which hit him in the head and sliced his eye open-dad was so pissed. I remember this one fight, too. We were underneath our dad’s truck, I don’t know how we got underneath there, but he was trying to twist my nipple off and I was trying to beat his head against the truck. We were under there just trying to kill each other, and finally we got out of there and we were just like, “We can’t fight anymore.”

At what age did you guys come to that realization?

Damien: I think we were seventeen.

C.J.: At that age, you know how to punch people in the face, you know how to do damage, and you’re just like …

Damien: I don’t think we ever said anything, but we just looked at each other and thought, “If we don’t stop this, we’re probably gonna kill each other.” After that, we were done with it.

How many times have you two surfed against each other since you’ve been on the WCT?

C.J.: Just once.

Damien: Yeah, that was in Japan-he smoked me. I was bummed, but he ended up winning the contest, so I was really stoked in the end. I would have been more bummed if he beat me and then lost the next heat. I’d be like, “You beat me, but you can’t beat the next guy?”

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but how can we tell you guys apart?

C.J.: I wear my watch on my left hand, and Damien wears his watch on his right hand. I have a Ford, and he has a Chevy. His wife is blond, my wife is brunette. His wife is from the West, my wife’s from the East.

Damien: Are you talking more about facial differences?

Anything. I’ve noticed Damien has more of a southern drawl.

Damien: Yeah, everyone says I talk a little slower.

C.J.: He has a beagle, and I have a boxer. They say I have a bump on my nose, too.

They say, or you do?

Damien: He does have a bump on his nose.

The other day out surfing I mixed you guys up and felt pretty stupid. Sorry about that. But that can’t be the first time, right?

Damien: I think you (the person mixing the twins up) get more bummed than we do.

C.J.: We’re in the same boat, man. When I see a twin, I just call ’em by their last name. I feel bad not knowing their names, so I know how people feel when they get us wrong. But we’re just like, “It ain’t no big deal. You ain’t the first, and you ain’t gonna be the last.”

Damien: We’re in the same boat.

One thing that really sticks out in both of your surfing is the frontside pump in the barrel. Can you tell me about that?

C.J.: Shane Dorian calls it the “Hula Dance.”

The “Hula Dance”?

C.J.: Doing the hula. You’re like this (C.J. stands up and does a quick hula minus the hoop).

So the “Hula,” huh? Is it all in the hips like they say?

C.J.: I don’t know too much about the technical side. I just call it the “Hula Dance” now because I thought it was funny. I don’t know where I learned it.

Damien: Maybe it’s from surfing small waves and how you have to do little adjustments and little pumps to try to get every little bit of power out of the wave. It’s just like being in the barrel where you have to do the tiniest of adjustments and pumps to get through a section.

C.J.: They call it “Hollywood” when you have an easy one. I would love to stand up in every barrel and just do “Hollywood,” but sometimes you gotta do the “Hula” (laughs).

You guys have money, you’re young and traveling the world. There’re obviously things being put in front of you. How do you deal with those temptations without going overboard?

I know I would.

Damien: We have all the temptations. We’re human just like everyone else, and we make mistakes and still stray, but we know what makes us happiest and what makes us free from that stuff. A lot of the guys like to look at porno mags and are like, “Hey, Damo, check this out.” But I’m like, “Nah, I really shouldn’t check it out, I don’t think it’s best if I do.” Like the other day, someone said, “Dude, why won’t you look at this?

” To me, that’s like sitting in front of Chopes and I can’t go surfing. It’s going to bum me out, you know?

I’m like, “I have a wife, and that’s what me and her do.”

Now we’re getting somewhere …

Damien: If I look at that stuff, there’s no satisfaction. I’m just gonna want to look through it, look through the next one, and the next one.

C.J.: Wheying to kill each other, and finally we got out of there and we were just like, “We can’t fight anymore.”

At what age did you guys come to that realization?

Damien: I think we were seventeen.

C.J.: At that age, you know how to punch people in the face, you know how to do damage, and you’re just like …

Damien: I don’t think we ever said anything, but we just looked at each other and thought, “If we don’t stop this, we’re probably gonna kill each other.” After that, we were done with it.

How many times have you two surfed against each other since you’ve been on the WCT?

C.J.: Just once.

Damien: Yeah, that was in Japan-he smoked me. I was bummed, but he ended up winning the contest, so I was really stoked in the end. I would have been more bummed if he beat me and then lost the next heat. I’d be like, “You beat me, but you can’t beat the next guy?”

I’m sure you’ve heard this a million times, but how can we tell you guys apart?

C.J.: I wear my watch on my left hand, and Damien wears his watch on his right hand. I have a Ford, and he has a Chevy. His wife is blond, my wife is brunette. His wife is from the West, my wife’s from the East.

Damien: Are you talking more about facial differences?

Anything. I’ve noticed Damien has more of a southern drawl.

Damien: Yeah, everyone says I talk a little slower.

C.J.: He has a beagle, and I have a boxer. They say I have a bump on my nose, too.

They say, or you do?

Damien: He does have a bump on his nose.

The other day out surfing I mixed you guys up and felt pretty stupid. Sorry about that. But that can’t be the first time, right?

Damien: I think you (the person mixing the twins up) get more bummed than we do.

C.J.: We’re in the same boat, man. When I see a twin, I just call ’em by their last name. I feel bad not knowing their names, so I know how people feel when they get us wrong. But we’re just like, “It ain’t no big deal. You ain’t the first, and you ain’t gonna be the last.”

Damien: We’re in the same boat.

One thing that really sticks out in both of your surfing is the frontside pump in the barrel. Can you tell me about that?

C.J.: Shane Dorian calls it the “Hula Dance.”

The “Hula Dance”?

C.J.: Doing the hula. You’re like this (C.J. stands up and does a quick hula minus the hoop).

So the “Hula,” huh? Is it all in the hips like they say?

C.J.: I don’t know too much about the technical side. I just call it the “Hula Dance” now because I thought it was funny. I don’t know where I learned it.

Damien: Maybe it’s from surfing small waves and how you have to do little adjustments and little pumps to try to get every little bit of power out of the wave. It’s just like being in the barrel where you have to do the tiniest of adjustments and pumps to get through a section.

C.J.: They call it “Hollywood” when you have an easy one. I would love to stand up in every barrel and just do “Hollywood,” but sometimes you gotta do the “Hula” (laughs).

You guys have money, you’re young and traveling the world. There’re obviously things being put in front of you. How do you deal with those temptations without going overboard?

I know I would.

Damien: We have all the temptations. We’re human just like everyone else, and we make mistakes and still stray, but we know what makes us happiest and what makes us free from that stuff. A lot of the guys like to look at porno mags and are like, “Hey, Damo, check this out.” But I’m like, “Nah, I really shouldn’t check it out, I don’t think it’s best if I do.” Like the other day, someone said, “Dude, why won’t you look at this?

” To me, that’s like sitting in front of Chopes and I can’t go surfing. It’s going to bum me out, you know?

I’m like, “I have a wife, and that’s what me and her do.”

Now we’re getting somewhere …

Damien: If I look at that stuff, there’s no satisfaction. I’m just gonna want to look through it, look through the next one, and the next one.

C.J.: Whether you’re in Tahiti, Florida, California, or Australia, you’re still in this world. There’s no temptation that I don’t deal with at home with my wife that I don’t deal with on the road. You can get crack in China, and you can get crack in Australia, it doesn’t matter where you are. If you’re on tour or you’re at the office from nine to five, it’s all the same.

How long do you two see yourselves doing the professional surfing thing?

C.J.: I was talking to Occy about this yesterday. I think the older you get, the more you appreciate life and the things you may have brushed off when you were younger. As far as my career, I don’t want to put a time frame on myself because even if I did, I would probably change my mind in a year.

Damien: I’ll be going until the wheels fall off. But who knows, there could be a generation of surfers that come up in the next four or five years that just blows away every generation before it.

Speaking of a new generation, any kids in the cards for you two?

Damien: Not for me, but C.J. …

C.J.: I got a little girl coming in July. Where have you been?

Didn’t you do your homework before this interview?

Oh, congratulations. I notice Damien is the nice one and C.J. is the ball buster.

C.J.: I’m just giving you a hard time.

You’re busting my balls.

C.J.: I can bust your balls because you know surfing, but if someone interviews me outside of surfing, I can’t bust their balls because I wouldn’t expect them to know much.

Okay, this is going downhill quick, any parting words?

C.J.: With twins-and brothers in general-there’re a lot of struggles. I have a little brother who struggled with his own identity, but when he turned twenty, he decided he wanted to take up surfing. It’s the same thing we struggled with-we surfed, but we struggled with our individual identity, then finally accepted it when we were 25 years old.

Damien: I think when you accept things, you can move on, and to prove it, we’re having more fun surfing at this point in life than ever before. C.J. You can tell when a person feels comfortable with where they’re at and what they’re doing because it shows in their surfing.

Damien went on to place second in the Teahupo’o contest, but unfortunately injured his shoulder in the process. C.J. followed that up with a second in Tavarua. C.J. and Damien are both happy and content with what’s going on in their lives now-the results speak for themselves.

Pull quotes:”It freaks us out when we see crazy twins. We’re like, ‘Oh great, that’s what people think about us.'”-C.J.

“He was trying to twist my nipple off and I was trying to beat his head against the truck.”-C.J.

“We just looked at each other and thought, ‘If we don’t stop this, we’re probably gonna kill each other.'”-Damien

“I’ll be going until the wheels fall off.”-Damien

Whether you’re in Tahiti, Florida, California, or Australia, you’re still in this world. There’s no temptation that I don’t deal with at home with my wife that I don’t deal with on the road. You can get crack in China, and you can get crack in Australia, it doesn’t matter where you are. If you’re on tour or you’re at the office from nine to five, it’s all the same.

How long do you two see yourselves doing the professional surfing thing?

C.J.: I was talking to Occy about this yesterday. I think the older you get, the more you appreciate life and the things you may have brushed off when you were younger. As far as my career, I don’t want to put a time frame on myself because even if I did, I would probably change my mind in a year.

Damien: I’ll be going until the wheels fall off. But who knows, there could be a generation of surfers that come up in the next four or five years that just blows away every generation before it.

Speaking of a new generation, any kids in the cards for you two?

Damien: Not for me, but C.J. …

C.J.: I got a little girl coming in July. Where have you been?

Didn’t you do your homework before thiss interview?

Oh, congratulations. I notice Damien is the nice one and C.J. is the ball buster.

C.J.: I’m just giving you a hard time.

You’re busting my balls.

C.J.: I can bust your balls because you know surfing, but if someone interviews me outside of surfing, I can’t bust their balls because I wouldn’t expect them to know much.

Okay, this is going downhill quick, any parting words?

C.J.: With twins-and brothers in general-there’re a lot of struggles. I have a little brother who struggled with his own identity, but when he turned twenty, he decided he wanted to take up surfing. It’s the same thing we struggled with-we surfed, but we struggled with our individual identity, then finally accepted it when we were 25 years old.

Damien: I think when you accept things, you can move on, and to prove it, we’re having more fun surfing at this point in life than ever before. C.J. You can tell when a person feels comfortable with where they’re at and what they’re doing because it shows in their surfing.

Damien went on to place second in the Teahupo’o contest, but unfortunately injured his shoulder in the process. C.J. followed that up with a second in Tavarua. C.J. and Damien are both happy and content with what’s going on in their lives now-the results speak for themselves.

Pull quotes:”It freaks us out when we see crazy twins. We’re like, ‘Oh great, that’s what people think about us.'”-C.J.

“He was trying to twist my nipple off and I was trying to beat his head against the truck.”-C.J.

“We just looked at each other and thought, ‘If we don’t stop this, we’re probably gonna kill each other.'”-Damien

“I’ll be going until the wheels fall off.”-Damien