Last week, the 2009 World Championship Tour’s 7th ranked surfer, CJ Hobgood, decided he’d exercise a surprise attack on the World Qualifying Series, and surf the 6* PRIME Hang Loose Pro at one of Brazil’s most iconic barrels, Fernando de Noronha. Hobgood was the 2001 World Champion, and hasn’t needed to use the Qualifying Series (QS) since he was first trying to make the Big Leagues over a decade ago.
To no one’s surprise Hobgood won, took home the $20,000 winner’s check, the 6,500 qualifying points and he now sits atop the 2010 WQS tour. “I’m stoked,” said Hobgood. “Last year I put too much pressure on myself and it didn’t pay off. It was amazing to win right now in the ning of the season. I was lucky all day long finding those left barrels and I’m glad to be here in this amazing place.”
This leaves surf nerds everywhere asking one question. Why did he start the year with a WQS event? He did turn the big 30 last July, and the World Championship Tour has been under a youth invasion for the past few years. Guys like Dane Reynolds and Jordy Smith have shown competitive surfing what the future holds. Plus, this year the tour will be introduced to even more high flying youngsters with likes of: Dusty Payne, Owen Wright, Tanner Guadaskas, Patrick Guadaskas and Brett Simpson all making their debuts. Does Hobgood sense a changing of the guard? Does he feel he may need the QS’ this year to stay on tour?
Or, has the Hobgood fortune taken a hit in this recent economic meltdown, and $20,000 sounded nice? Probably not the case, Hobgood is one of the lucky few, who have been able to make a small fortune off of surfing. Although, people with a surplus of money do tend to play around with the stock market, and those are the people that lost their shirts when the bottom fell out.
Let’s not forget, Hobgood has been a surfer since he could walk, it’s the only thing he’s ever really had to do in life. He is a guy, who at 30, still seems like he enjoys it just as much as when he was 12. For the past few years he and his twin brother, Damien, have been holding Camp Hobgood, in which they take the best up-and-coming young surfers in the world on surf trips. They hold mock heats, pass on knowledge and just do what they can to push surfing to new heights. That is why the reason for Hobgood’s decision to surf the Hang Loose Pro, may just be he loves surfing, and in these times $20,000 doesn’t hurt.