Damien and C.J. Hobgood
Photo shoot for Sports Illustrated For Kids
Satellite Beach, Florida
The Beginning Of The Hobgoods.
Innate talent, however rare, can push a young surfer far when applied properly. To wit, Kelly Slater once said he could’ve been an anonymous fisherman had he never touched a surfboard. But he did. Similarly, if the Hobgoods were raised in Kansas, there’s a good chance today they’d be 25-year-old corn pickers.
Instead, they grew up in Florida’s Satellite Beach, and at age thirteen they found themselves occupying five spreads in Sports Illustrated For Kids, for which this photo was shot. Photographer Dick Meseroll remembers it fondly.
“Damien and C.J. were the next big thing to come out of Florida since Slater,” remembers Mez. “Just being young surf rats from a beachbreak in Florida, the article was a real breakthrough for them.”
The surf was a five-minute bike ride from the Hobgoods’ house.
“We were super fortunate in that we could ride our bikes to the beach,” Damien said. “Every day after school, we’d race home, throw our book bags on the ground, grab boards from the garage, and just blaze to the beach. At low tide we could ride on the beach, which made it real easy to find the best sandbar.”
“Back then, all I could ever think about was how fast I could get home and go surfing,” C.J. said. “When contest weekends came around, I’d be thinking about the contest. Or if there wasn’t a contest, I’d be thinking about getting a new board, or watching surf videos and deciding which pro I was going to imitate for my friends during our next freesurf.”
The Hobgoods’ amateur careers in the NSSA and central Florida’s ESA segued naturally into WQS-and eventually WCT-berths. It took only one year for C.J. to find himself battling the big dogs on the ‘CT-1999 earned him the ASP’s Rookie Of The Year award. In 2000, he won the ASP’s Most Improved award, and in 2001, he was sitting pretty with the ASP World Title-C.J.’s run was considered the tour’s fastest ascent to the top in quite some time.
Trailing C.J. closely, Damien was the ASP’s 2000 Rookie Of The Year and its Most Improved Surfer in 2001.
WCT highlights for both include impressive performances at the Billabong Pro Tahiti, won by C.J. in 2004, and, despite dislocating his shoulder halfway through the final, Damien placed second at this year’s event.
In 2004, Damien beat World Champ Andy Irons to win Fiji’s Quiksilver Pro, which he had to miss this year because of his shoulder. After this year’s Globe WCT Fiji, WCT ratings had C.J. in third and Damien in seventh.
“Growing up, my expectations weren’t too high,” C.J. said. “I just knew I would have to try harder than the next guy because I never really thought my surfing was all that good.”
So there they were, the two little towheaded teenage twins, wheeling blissfully across Satellite Beach. Future certainties? With their raw talent, only one thing: progress.-Michael Kew