Hossegor, France (Monday, Aug 28, 2000). World number-18 CJ Hobgood (USA) today won his first World Championship Tour (WCT) event and jumped into equal fourth position on the adjusted 2000 ratings. In 2-3 foot (1m) clean conditions this morning, Hobgood advanced from the quarter-finals to ultimately claim the best result of his career to-date, defeating current world number-two Luke Egan (Aus) in the grand finale of the Hossegor Rip Curl Pro. Hobgood, 21, placed second in his first WCT final last year in Tahiti against current world champion Mark Occhilupo (Aus), unable as a top-44 rookie to manage the top spot. Against Occhilupo’s close mate Egan today, however, the American matched his more experienced opponents first high scoring ride, before backing this up with two even better rides to narrowly earn his first major victory.[IMAGE 1]CJ Hobgood (USA, Florida) claims his first WCT victory amongst cheering French fans. Hobgood jumped from 14 to 4th position on the ASP WCT ratings, his highest placed ranking to date.
CJ Hobgood squeezed past current ASP world number 1 Luke Egan (AUS) by 0.20 points to clinch the Hossegor Rip Curl Pro title. Hobgood pocketed US$15 000.
Current ASP world number 2 Luke Egan (AUS) finished runner up, narrowly beaten by an in-form CJ Hobgood (USA). Egan pocketed US$8 000
Despite impressive surfing by current ASP world number 1 Sunny Garcia (HAW) he was beaten by CJ Hobgood(USA)in the semifinal.Garcia finished equal 3rd with Shea Lopez (USA), pocketingUS$4000
“Oh my gosh… I don’t even know what to say,” admitted a grinning Hobgood on the waters edge afterward. “I didn’t even know what happened at the end. I saw him (Egan) do an air (on his last wave), so I wasn’t sure what happened. The commentator was speaking French, so I didn’t know (laughs). I’m so, so happy. Luke’s such a great surfer… he’s the best surfer, so I’m stoked.
“I thought my first heat (today) was going to be the hardest,” he explained, referring to his quarter-final clash with Hawaiian Kalani Robb. “You never know how it’s going to turn out. Kalani was out there ripping before it started and I made it through that one, then kind of gained a little bit of confidence. I was lucky, too, and that always helps (more laughs). [IMAGE 2]”Sunny said he wouldn’t let me into Hawaii this year if I didn’t win,” joked Hobgood, who eliminated Garcia in the semi-finals. “So I had that in the back of my mind a little bit (laughs).
“You just hope for the best and things have to go your way, too,” he added. “Not only do you have to surf halfway decent, but a couple of my heats earlier in the event were so close and could have gone either way. Things just have to go your way, and I was lucky enough they did.”
Egan, 30, scored the highest single wave of the 30-minute final, 8.10 out-of-a possible 10-points, but was still after a 6.21 at the end. He caught a left-hander and executed a small aerial on his last ride, but it wasn’t enough to give him the title. The Australian gained some points on Garcia’s ratings lead, but only slightly.
“My second last wave was a 5.8,” explained Egan afterward. “I had priority and if I was going to win I was going to win then. I needed a 6.2 and put everything into I could, but I came up short. That last wave, it was a little small, so I had to try something, so I did a little bunny hop (laughs).
“I’m feeling good about that,” he added, in response to gaining some points on Garcia. “I would have liked to have gotten one spot more, though. He’s still got a good lead on me and there’s a lot more hard work to do.”
Current ratings leader Sunny Garcia (Haw) was disappointed with his third place finish today, having eliminated an in-form Taylor Knox (USA) in the quarter-finals. Against Hobgood in their semi-final, however, the Hawaiian was behind the eight ball from the onset, after his opponent picked off a solid ride right as the heat began.
“It started off bad,” said Garcia, once he had ccalmed his fiery temper. “I paddled over a wave I could have gone on and they (contest officials) started it just in time for CJ to catch it and he scored a 7.0, so right off the bat I started behind. Then I let a few waves go by that he got good scores on. I should have been taking waves when I was just letting them go. Toward the end of the heat I got a really good wave and thought I would have got what I needed, but I guess the judges thought otherwise, and that’s the way it goes.
“I’m never happy unless I’m winning, so I’m disappointed,” he admitted. “It’s a good result, but still, I should be doing better. I guess I’ll just plug away at it next week. He’s (Egan) playing catch up. I’m out in front, it’s not like I got a 17th and he’s in the final. I got third, so I’ll still be fairly far out in front and I’m not too worried.”
Also finishing equal third today was Shea Lopez (USA). The American losing to Egan in their semi-final, but still amassing enough points to move all the way from 14th into ninth on the ratings now. [IMAGE 3]”I’m really happen the third,” Lopez said. “I’ve had a lot of good waves throughout this event, but during that heat we were out during dead low-tide. I had one good wave where I scored a 7.0, then I had another one that possibly could have been another good score, but I fell on it. That’s the only two waves I got. He only had three, but he took advantage of them. I had two and messed up one, so there was nothing really I could come back with.”
MSF EXPRESSION SESSION
The Mitchell Surfing Foundation also sponsored one of their MSF Expression Sessions today, in between the second semi-final and final. With US$5,000 on offer over three categories, many of the world’s best made an appearance and entertained the huge crowd with a fine display of modern surfing.
In the water was Occhilupo, Shea and Cory Lopez, Garcia, Knox, Ross Williams (Haw), Rochelle Ballard (Haw) and 11-year-old Jeremy Flores (Reunion Island), who impressed all with his mature style.
Cory Lopez took out the main prize for a huge aerial he executed, while Garcia and Knox both added some more funds to their days’ earnings.
“I’m stoked Greville (Mitchell) is here to put up the money up for it and get us out there,” said Lopez afterward, two-grand richer. “The crowd gets into it and are all stoked. I saw them all standing up on the beach clapping. The waves were fun, so that really adds to it. When the waves are bad it’s not really worth having them, but when there are waves and good sections, it’s really fun.”
Official Results of Hossegor Rip Curl Pro Final Day
Finals:1st CJ Hobgood (USA) 21.05 def. 2nd L Egan (Aus) 20.85
Semi-Finals SF1: CJ Hobgood (USA) 22.20 def. S Garcia (Haw) 21.00SF2: L Egan (Aus) 20.60 def. S Lopez (USA) 16.00
Quarter-FinalsQF1: CJ Hobgood (USA) 20.60 def. K Robb (Haw) 19.15QF2: S Garcia (Haw) 23.30 def. T Knox (USA) 18.75 QF3: L Egan (Aus) 19.85 def. F Gouveia (Brz) 16.50QF4: S Lopez (USA) 20.30 def. R Williams (Haw) 15.60
MSF Expression Session
Best Aerial – Cory Lopez (USA) $2,000 Most Innovative – Sunny Garcia (Haw) $1,500Most Radical – Taylor Knox (USA) $1,500
Current Top-10 Ratings
1. S Garcia (Haw) 5700 2. L Egan (Aus) 5090 3. M Campbell (Aus) 4520 =4. CJ Hobgood (USA);J Paterson (Aus);C Lopez (USA) 4270 7. R Machado (USA) 40508. S Dorian (Haw) 4010 9. S Lopez (USA) 4000 =10. P Rosa (Brz); F Padaratz (Brz) 3870