Noteworthy-CJ 4-2

ASP World Champion C.J. Hobgood

Your new American hero.

Who would’ve thought? At a time when everyone’s saying American surfing sucks, that nobody cares, and that professional surfing isn’t about contests, along comes a 22-year-old Floridian named C.J. Hobgood to sneak up on the world. Sure it was a shortened season, sure everyone ate shit at Sunset (see “Competition” starting on page 98), but when it comes down to it, “points is points” as they say in Florida, and our new World Champion is a friendly, young, and very progressive American surfer. Thanks to C.J., Mick Fanning, Kelly Slater, and the rest of the 44, next year looks to be an exciting one for contest surfing. So read this short interview and get excited.-A.C.

TransWorld SURF: Did you ever think the 2001 World Championship would be a reality?

C.J.: I did visualize myself being here and everything-I’ve done that since the first year I’ve been on tour. I just kept visualizing myself making heats and telling myself that it will happen … I will win. It all worked out better than I imagined.

How does it feel clinching it here, in Hawai’i?

I’m just stoked I came here at a young age and tried to go out in all conditions. I don’t think I’ve really proven myself in a manner where I’ve gone out and won a contest here and stuff. I enjoy surfing around here, I enjoy surfing big waves-I’ll just keep doing that, and one of these days one of these WCT contests will fall my way. I look up to guys like Sunny Garcia, Andy Irons, Mick Fanning … there’s so many guys that surf good out here. No matter who’s in a heat, no matter what’s going on, it’s Sunset and it’s proved that something’s gonna happen. If you were to ask me this morning if all nine contenders were gonna lose, I would have bet a world title that it wasn’t gonna happen, but it happened … so that’s Sunset. It’s a crazy place; it can beat you down, and it can make you feel like you’re the smallest man in the world-you just respect it.

In your wildest dreams, did you ever see this scenario being played out?No. I thought I was gonna have to do it myself, but when I lost I thought it would be over. It was definitely a dream, though. I mean, with what happened yesterday … all those guys losing. It was like, “Something’s going on here.” It was weird.

At what point did you think, “Oh my god, these guys are losing. I might win”?I was sitting at the house yesterday, getting ready to go surfing, and I got a phone call that everyone had lost except for two guys, and I was like, “Shut up! This is crazy!” The next thing you know, it was just over. It had happened so quick.

Will there be a lot of pressure on you as the world champ?Obviously there’s pressure. There’s pressure no matter where you’re at in the rankings. And then there’s the pressure I put on myself. I think it’s good pressure. There weren’t that many contests this year-I didn’t win a ‘CT this year, and I still won it. There’s a lot of doubt that everyone can feed off with me winning this year, but I’m taking that and using it to my advantage to make me that much hungrier. I’m just kinda looking at that as a positive.

What do you think about Kelly being back on tour next year?

I think it’s insane. I hear from the older guys that he just brings some extra element to the tour. I haven’t been able to experience that, but I’m stoked I was able to get one when he wasn’t on tour.

Is Damien next?

It kinda seems fitting. A few years ago I finished twenty-something and he finished twenty-something, too. Then I finished sixth, and I think he finished something around that area. So, yeah, I think he’ll be in the running next year for sure.