SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. (April 27) ¿ Current Association of Surfing Professionals’ World Champion C.J. Hobgood and Hawaiian Melanie Bartels both started strong on the final day of the Foster’s Cup and breezed to victory in the windy, inconsistent head-high waves of Lower Trestles to take the Men’s and Women’s titles at the 2-star World Qualifying Series event and the first North American stop on the 2002 Foster’s Pro Surfing Tour.
Hobgood lived up to his billing as the top professional surfer in the world, taking first in each of his heats leading up to the final, then continued his hot streak against twin brother Damien, Laguna Beach’s Mike Todd and San Diego’s Dean Randazzo with an opening ride of 9.25 out of 10 points. Fellow goofy-footer Todd kept it close for much of the heat with some strong scores in the beginning of the 30-minute final until an extended lull brought any additional significant scoring to a standstill. Damien Hobgood and Randazzo collided with each other as both attempted to take off on the same wave, leading to a double interference call that killed their title chances. Even without the interference, it was apparent from the start that it was C.J.’s day, as the 5’7″, 150-pounder was able to fit his compact frame into the sectiony, quick-dumping waves of Lowers that looked more like a beach break than one of California’s premier point waves.
“I really didn’t know what I scored on that first wave, but I got a couple of good turns off,” said the 22-year-old Satellite Beach resident. “In all my heats I was trying to get a good start, because you never know when the ocean’s going to go flat. I was able to sneak it and get it right off the bat in the first 30 seconds. Then it went flat for the last 15 minutes, and that was the difference. If someone else would have caught that wave, they probably would have won it. Sometimes you have to know when to scramble, and a lot of times it’s an instinctive thing. I felt comfortable and relaxed, and things just went my way.”
It could have gone Mike Todd’s way had it not been for the lull and a final high score to go ahead of the ASP World Champ. “I grew up surfing the N.S.S.A. National Scholastic Surfing Association against C.J. and those guys and they were always competitive, they always did well, they had their heads together, and C.J. has obviously really shown that. I came to Lowers to do well, it seems I’ve always had a jinx out here, but I lucked into some good waves and I can’t complain, I’m just one place away from what I wanted.”
In the Women’s division, Melanie Bartels from Oahu’s Westside was just as dominant as the men’s world champ, opening her final heat with a long right and a huge top snap that scored 8.25, distancing her from 2001 Professional Surfing Tour of America Champion Julia Christian, fellow Hawaiian Yvette Bertlemann, and 14-year-old sensation Erica Hosseini of Newport Beach, the youngest competitor ever to reach an ASP-sanctioned final. The Women’s final also was plagued with a long lull mid-way through the heat, so Bartels’ high opening score proved to be the difference, along with some support from the sounds of pop reggae band UB40 in her headphones as she warmed up. Another confidence booster was Bartels’ perfect 10-point ride in her semifinal heat, the only perfect score of the Foster’s Cup.
“I just went out there to have fun,” said the laid-back 19-year-old Hawaiian. “I was trying not to tnk about the competition because it just adds pressure. I just approached it as another day surfing with my friends. It was pretty hard to find the peak or know which wave was the right one. I can’t pass up an opportunity to surf Trestles with just three other girls out. You just have to wait for the right one, I really like surfing out here.”
Fourteen-year-old Women’s finalist Erica Hosseini of Newport Beach made history as the youngest athlete, male or female, to reach the finals of an ASP event.
“I was stunned when they announced I was second when I got out of the water before the heat was over,” said the Newport Beach local surfing in her first professional contest. “But then I saw a couple of the competitors stand up and thought, ‘there goes my placing.’ But it didn’t happen. I was stoked just to make it out of my first heat, then I made it to the final and just went out and had fun because I didn’t really have anything to lose.”
The final day saw more than its share of interference calls, including two calls on WCT surfer Shea Lopez in the second quarterfinal. Lopez was penalized for standing up on a left behind C.J. Hobgood after Hobgood was already on his feet and made a turn. Then with just a minute remaining, Lopez collided with former US champion Dino Andino and was told to leave the water based on the ASP two-interference rule.
Said Hobgood of the first interference, “I was the first one to stand up, so I’m eligible to choose which way I want to go, but I’m not going to rub my butt in his face to keep him from going left. I was doing a turn and noticed he was behind me. I mean, we surf against each other all year, it’s a fun thing to do but it’s not fun when that happens. It’s disrespectful and if I did that to someone else I’d expect he’d be pissed off at me. Same thing at the end of the heat, the interference was on Shea again. If he hadn’t jumped on Dino, Dino could have rode that wave out and got a three and advanced. But it happens, I just tried to get a few waves and stay out of the way. I’m good friends with Shea, I’m sure his conscience will get the best of him, and he’ll feel bad about what he did. We’ll be in Tahiti next week competing and I’m sure things will be fine.”
The Foster’s Cup marks the first North American appearance of the Foster’s Pro Surfing Tour, a powerful long-term alliance between Surfing America and the famed Australian beer maker. Created by the Surf Industry Manufacturer’s Association (SIMA), Surfing America is the nonprofit governing body for pro surfing in the USA. The Foster’s Cup event is being produced in conjunction with the PSTA by Jeff Grell of SnowSurfing, Inc.
The Foster’s Cup will be televised as a half-hour show on the Outdoor Life Network and will air four times, beginning on May 20 at 8:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
Official event product sponsors include the new Subaru Baja, Paul Mitchell Salon Haircare, Balance Bar, and Outdoor Life Network. Event title sponsors include Foster’s and Havaianas. Industry sponsors include Ocean Pacific, Surf One, Mountain High Resort, Sticky Bumps, Transworld Surf Magazine, Peak Sunscreen, and Surf Quest Media.
SIMA Support Sponsors include Body Glove, Rip Curl, O’Neill, Fin Control Systems, Oakley, Rusty, Billabong, Ocean Pacific, Globe, …lost, Vans, Surfing Magazine, Surfer Magazine, and Transworld Surf Magazine.
For press information about the Foster’s Cup event contact Gary Taylor at 760-803-1957. (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).t).