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Hobgood, CJ


Tenacious goofyfoot pro surfer from Satellite Beach, Florida; 2001 world tour champion. Hobgood was born (1979) in Melbourne Beach, Florida, the son of a dental technician father and nurse mother, and began riding waves in 1984 with his identical twin brother Damien. Five years later he won the menehune division of the 1991 Eastern Surfing Association Championships (Damien got second), setting up a long run at the top of the national amateur ranks: he was the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) East Coast boys' division champion in 1994, the NSSA national juniors' champion in 1995, and in 1997 he became the NSSA East Coast men's champion, and finished third in the prestigious Pro Junior contest in Sydney, Australia.

Hobgood turned pro in 1998, and the following year qualified for the world championship tour. A middleweight (5'8", 150 pounds), Hobgood used a wide, stable, functional stance, his arms spread, head and chin lifted. He quickly earned a reputation as an all-conditions pro: a creative aerial technician in smaller waves and a fearless tuberider at places like Pipeline and Teahupoo. Hobgood finished the 1999 season ranked 18th in the world, and was named the pro tour's rookie of the year; the following year he hit #7 in the rankings, earned his first big-league pro win (at the Hossegor Rip Curl Pro), and was named as "Breakthrough Surfer of the Year" at the Surfer Magazine Readers Poll Awards.

Hobgood's championship season in 2001 was diminished slightly by the fact that he went winless that year, and because three of the tour's eight scheduled events were cancelled following the 9/11 attacks. His best result for the year was a second place in the Billabong Pro at Teahupoo. Hobgood was 22 when he became world champion. "I'm not super talented," the drawling-voiced surfer humbly told Eastern Surf Magazine. "I just work hard." Demonstrating the point a few months later at the Op Pro Mentawais specialty event, held in cylindrical 8-foot tropical tubes, Hobgood bloodied his face on the reef after a wipeout, was patched up by an attending physician, then returned to the water where he scored the day's longest tuberide.

Hobgood never again challenged for the world title, but remained a solid, upper-mid-rank pro. He finished fourth in 2004, his best year-end result since his championship run. In 2011, he briefly dropped off the tour, but requalified in a matter of months. A non-pious Born Again Christian, Hobgood also earned a reputation as one of the most likable, stable pro surfers of his era. 

Since 2003, CJ and Damien have held Camp Hobgood, a roving international kind of surf retreat for rising young pros. Hobgood has appeared in dozens of surf videos, including Triple C (1996), Sacred Water (1999), Campaign (2003), A Brokedown Melody (2004), and Year Zero (2011).