Saturday’s Report From The Philips Fusion U.S. Open

Everyone knew it was coming-it was inevitable. Saturday at the Philips Fusion U.S. Open was the scene for two sorts of decline. First, was the decline of modern civilization. Normally crowded with inlanders and Huntingtonites of all sorts, a weekend at Surf City combined with a premier event made for a huge scene. Dudes, dads, dogs, chicks, moms, surfers, skaters, the surf industry, parachuters with fans on their backs, and every other classification of life presented itself for quite a show. It was crowded, but at least everyone was having fun: surf-fun that is. The weather began with morning sickness and finished sunny and warm enough for everyone to display their goodies. Oh yeah, there were tons of silicon rocks-not the sand, but what was laying on it.
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The second decline was that of the waves. The decreasing swell mixed with lower tides and some slight chop created the kind of conditions competitors hate-not that bad, it could be worse. Again, if it wasn’t flat from a lull, it was closing out or plain old mushy. It’s much easier to boost an air or throw a big turn when the wave is more like a ramp instead of a bumpy driveway-not the greatest forum for any kind of progressive surfing. In earlier heats this week, the two-wave totals were filled with eights and nines. Today’s were much lower courtesy of the waves.

Today was also when all the big guns surfed: the round of sixty four. Luke Hitchings, Taylor Knox, Cory Lopez, Mick Campbell, Fred Patacchia, Todd Prestage, Jake Paterson, and Phil MacDonald all had early shockers and found themselves leaving early for the next stops in France. Big winners included Kalani Robb, Darren O’Rafferty, Sunny Garcia, the ever-amazing Chris Ward, Rob Machado, Shane Beschen, Trent Munro, Pat O’Connell, Damien Hobgood, and Noodles Webster. Other notable advancements were Tom Curren, Taj Burrow, Troy Brooks, Masatoshi Ohno, young Jay Quinn, and Ben Bourgeois. The daily freak award went to Kirk Flintoff who also won a heat, but didn’t hesitate to try and bust some big backside three’s. Tomorrow morning marks the start of the round of 32.
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Tim Curran was also a big winner defeating Fred Patacchia and Mick Fanning who got second. Normally busting crazy moves all over the place, Tim found himself just trying to pull anything or even get waves, “Huntington often does that where it goes inconsistent for a while,” said Curran after his heat. “It was weird, I had a little bit of nerves going so it adds to it. You have to hope you can do more than two turns to get the score. It’s tough cause you really don’t know out there.” Knocked out of the WCT last year, Tim’s refocused and ready to make a run to get back on the big show, “After winning that five star, it gave me a lot of confidence. That took a lot of pressure off. That was before the tour even started because it all kind of starts now and Durban. It definitely brought my average down of what I need per event-so I’m excited. “

World Champion C.J. Hobgood took some time to answer some questions. The following is an interview on what exactly has been going on since he won last year:
How many interviews have you done this year so far?

How many interviews I’ve done or how many interviews I see get published laughs? Probably more interviews I have with the ASP, like when you get out of your heat, whether you win or lose, they always want to talk to you. So, that’s probably feels like where it comes into a lot. Besides that, not that many, I don’t think.

Has your year been what you’ve expected? Has it been down or up or what’s it been like so far?

It’s kind of been what I’ve expected. I mean, I do my thing and I kinda do good where I normally do good. It’s kinda been going the same there this year. I normally do good at Tahiti and Fiji and then I normally do average in Australia. So yeah, it’s gonna kind of like how it goes, you know.

Does the current state of the surf mart, and how companies are struggling bug you? Do you think it’s going to be a problem later on for the ASP and for guys like you?

I don’t think it really bugs me. I’m stoked with the way things have gone for me. I think it’s good. Personally, I don’t think the companies struggle as much as they say. I don’t believe that airline companies struggle like they say they do. I think everyone just says they’re doing bad-it’s easy to say. But until I see numbers or whatever, I don’t believe a lot of things are doing as bad as they say there are. But, I think it’s fine, you know, if kids are able to go out and surf and not have a sponsor and still go to surf and make it then it’s insane-that means they love surfing. And if I didn’t have a sponsor I’d still be out surfing because I love surfing. So it’s like, they’re able to surf and I find it hard to buy some of that sometimes. And it’s gonna turn around. I mean, it’s already turned around-everyone’s getting sponsors and it wouldn’t have for a couple months, and that’s supposed to be bad? Sometimes you need to just step away from surfing to realize how much you love it, and maybe some people, on that sense, need to not have so many things offered to them to realize how lucky they are to surf.
If you weren’t surfing today, what would you be doing? If you were just some recreational surfer in Florida, what would C.J. Hobgood be?

[IMAGE 3]I think I would try to be a guide, a fishing guide. And if I wasn’t doing that I’d probably try to be an agent for surfers and everything, because I know how some of them can be taken advantage of. We need basketball agents and stuff. Yeah, I think I would probably be an agent and try to help kids get what they deserve, I guess if I wasn’t in it.

I think Americans are the richest surfers on tour. Do you feel bad sometimes because there’s guys that don’t even have a clothing sponsor-like the Brazilians, and some of the Australians, where they pay their own way. Do you feel bad for those guys?

Yeah, I really think it’s all relative. I think if you lived in their economy, with the money they make, I think it’s really relative for our economy and the money we make. And with the Australians, I think they live just as-I don’t want say lavish, or anything-but they live live just as good as we live over here because it’s relative with their economy and the money they make. So it’s all relative. I live in Florida so I live in Florida so I live better than if I lived over here because there’s so many people, for anything, it’s just competition and everything. So, yeah, it’s all relative with where the person’s located at or where he’s from.

I did another interview for the current issue we’re working on and I talked to a couple guys and they kept stressing the importance of contests, and how it’s not fair that there’s guys out there that just shoot. What do you think about editorial surfers versus content surfers? Obviously, you do both ’cause you’ll go on trips and do contents, but what about guys that don’t do contents but all this coverage and everything? Do you think that’s fair to all of you who are traveling all year round?

I think it’s fair if those guys don’t make as much money as the guys that do both. I work a lot harder and those guys don’t work as hard but they’re still able to make a living off of that. I think that’s insane, you know, for a sport to be so big and so diverse, and to have all these people doing what they love to do, and to make money off it and make a living is insane. I think I get paid for what I do, and I think those guys get paid for what they do, too. If those guys made as much money as some of the best guys on tour then, yeah, I think it would be unfair, because I don’t think those guys work as hard as us guys do, just because we have to do both. I think it’s balanced out pretty well.

Are you into progressing the sport, trying new moves and bringing them into the whole scene?

I don’t know what do you guys think?

Well I think so. I’ve seen you try different shit, but do you put it in you head that, when your f-king around in France or whatever, to maybe try a kick flip or try a varial or something like that?

The way I’ve always surfed, when I’m in competition, it’s like a switch, and I surf how I surf in competition-I just do what I need to advance no matter what the situation is-whether I need to do something crazy to advance, I just do. But when I’m free surfing, it’s like I never can do the stuff free surfing that I do in competition and vice versa. It’s like I can never go and hit it, or ride the wave as long as do sometimes. laughs. And I don’t even know how do it. It’s just when I’m in competition, that’s how it goes out. When I’m free surfing, I normally do like one or two maneuvers on way or something. So, it’s just the way it works. It’s like a switch in my head, and it’s the way I’ve grown up and it’s just natural-it’s like second nature.

Do you think skateboarding moves should be brought into surfing?

I think they’ve been trying to be brought into surfing as much as they can. You can do anything you want. I think it’s rad to look at much it’s progressed. It’s kinda funny because I was thinking about it-I was reading the last article you did of Tim Curran and I remember the first time I saw him do that alley-oop and I thought how crazy that was. And now, five years later maybe, I think that’s one of the easiest moves to do in surfing. And I think a lot of surfers can agree with that. And so, on that little reality, I think the sport is growing-and it always will grow, and it’ll always have new moves and all that kind of stuff. If you think how cool that was when you saw it five years ago and you think how easy it was, you won’t even blink if you see someone do one of those now. I think all those moves are getting brought in, and whether it’s wakeboarding or whatever, it’s being brought in. Everyone’s always thinking about it. It’s just the ability to mix old and new, and putting it all together so it looks right.

How long before you bring fishing moves into surfing?
I don’t know, can you troll while we’re on a wave or something? laughs. Can we hang we hang a lure off your leash string or something?

I want you to make your own move and call it a hooker or something- “The Hook, line, and sinker.” Of all the travelling you’ve done this year and all the people you’ve surfed with and seen, who’s blowing your mind the most this year?

There’s so many good surfers on tour now that it’s crazy. I’ve only been on tour for three and I totally think it’s twice as hard as when I tour. No, I’ve been on tour for four year, I think it’s twice as hard this year than when I started. And who’s blowing my mind? I mean, obviousy Andy-he’s been doing some really good surfing-Joel, Mick Fanning, Taj, Kelly-the guys that you hear about that do good surfing. And they’ll continue to do good surfing on tour. But the best surfer always doesn’t win. I’m trying to think of guys that are at the bottom that are doing really good surfing that it doesn’t show.

If there were a World Champ with the ladies on tour, who would it be? Who’s getting the most action on tour-who’s the naughtiest?

They’ll probably hate me. I’m trying to think of an underground guy, because there’s obviously the few that everyone knows. I don’t know, go out at night. See who’s out at night the most-that’ll probably tell you. scene?

I don’t know what do you guys think?

Well I think so. I’ve seen you try different shit, but do you put it in you head that, when your f-king around in France or whatever, to maybe try a kick flip or try a varial or something like that?

The way I’ve always surfed, when I’m in competition, it’s like a switch, and I surf how I surf in competition-I just do what I need to advance no matter what the situation is-whether I need to do something crazy to advance, I just do. But when I’m free surfing, it’s like I never can do the stuff free surfing that I do in competition and vice versa. It’s like I can never go and hit it, or ride the wave as long as do sometimes. laughs. And I don’t even know how do it. It’s just when I’m in competition, that’s how it goes out. When I’m free surfing, I normally do like one or two maneuvers on way or something. So, it’s just the way it works. It’s like a switch in my head, and it’s the way I’ve grown up and it’s just natural-it’s like second nature.

Do you think skateboarding moves should be brought into surfing?

I think they’ve been trying to be brought into surfing as much as they can. You can do anything you want. I think it’s rad to look at much it’s progressed. It’s kinda funny because I was thinking about it-I was reading the last article you did of Tim Curran and I remember the first time I saw him do that alley-oop and I thought how crazy that was. And now, five years later maybe, I think that’s one of the easiest moves to do in surfing. And I think a lot of surfers can agree with that. And so, on that little reality, I think the sport is growing-and it always will grow, and it’ll always have new moves and all that kind of stuff. If you think how cool that was when you saw it five years ago and you think how easy it was, you won’t even blink if you see someone do one of those now. I think all those moves are getting brought in, and whether it’s wakeboarding or whatever, it’s being brought in. Everyone’s always thinking about it. It’s just the ability to mix old and new, and putting it all together so it looks right.

How long before you bring fishing moves into surfing?
I don’t know, can you troll while we’re on a wave or something? laughs. Can we hang we hang a lure off your leash string or something?

I want you to make your own move and call it a hooker or something- “The Hook, line, and sinker.” Of all the travelling you’ve done this year and all the people you’ve surfed with and seen, who’s blowing your mind the most this year?

There’s so many good surfers on tour now that it’s crazy. I’ve only been on tour for three and I totally think it’s twice as hard as when I tour. No, I’ve been on tour for four year, I think it’s twice as hard this year than when I started. And who’s blowing my mind? I mean, obviousy Andy-he’s been doing some really good surfing-Joel, Mick Fanning, Taj, Kelly-the guys that you hear about that do good surfing. And they’ll continue to do good surfing on tour. But the best surfer always doesn’t win. I’m trying to think of guys that are at the bottom that are doing really good surfing that it doesn’t show.

If there were a World Champ with the ladies on tour, who would it be? Who’s getting the most action on tour-who’s the naughtiest?

They’ll probably hate me. I’m trying to think of an underground guy, because there’s obviously the few that everyone knows. I don’t know, go out at night. See who’s out at night the most-that’ll probably tell you.