Kelly Slater’s ASP world title hopes are in the hands of one of his oldest mates on tour, CJ Hobgood. If Hobgood beats Mick Fanning in their upcoming Round 5 clash of the Billabong Pipeline Masters, he denies Fanning his chance to win his third world title, and Slater has the green light to win his 12th crown if he goes on to win the event. With a 12-foot swell on the horizon for Saturday morning, the hard charging Hobgood is licking his chops and getting ready for battle. Here’s what he had to say before the big match-up.
With swell looking solid for Saturday, how do you feel about your chances in your Round 5 heat against Mick Fanning?
I just feel like if it’s man vs. ocean, meaning if the swell is big, then anything is possible. I’ve surfed the Pipe event for over a decade, so has Mick. I imagine our win ratios are similar over the years we’ve competed here but you will have to ask the experts. The point being it’s gonna be a good match-up. But I love my chances against anybody with these conditions.
Most of the event so far has taken place at Backdoor; are you excited for the possibility of getting some real Pipe waves?
I’m excited for some big waves--that’s why people want to tune in and watch. Everyone, competitors included, is excited.
You and Kelly Slater are both Floridians and are good friends. Have you spoken with him at all in the last few days? I have this vision of him making you fresh almond milk every morning, feeding you chia seeds, and breaking down exactly how to beat Mick. Is that what’s been happening with you two?
I’m more of a corned beef hash and eggs guy, but really all parties know exactly what’s at stake. We don’t need any motivation. Every surfer in and out of the comp knows exactly the stakes for where they will end up on the ratings.
Do you think you’ll be able to feel how much he’ll be rooting for you in your heat?
He will be focused on his task--everything he can control. That’s what has brought us all to this point. Kelly is confident with his chances.
You’re having one of your best seasons on tour in years. How would you feel if you were to beat Kelly in the Pipe Master’s final and deny him No. 12?
I would cry my eyes out.
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