Clifton James “C.J.” Hobgood

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A tenacious goofyfoot pro surfer, Hobgood’s key accomplishment was as the 2001 ASP World Tour Champion. Hobgood was born in 1979 in Melbourne Beach, Florida, the son of a dental technician father and nurse mother. He began riding waves in 1984 with his identical twin brother, Damien. Five years later Hobgood entered his first surfing contest and placed second in the Open Boys division. He won the Menehune Division of the 1991 Eastern Surfing Association Championships at Cape Hatteras, NC, setting up a long run at the top of the national ranks. Hobgood 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, while also finishing third in the prestigious Pro Junior contest in Sydney, Australia that same year.

Hobgood turned pro in 1998, and the following year qualified for the ASP World Championship Tour. He quickly earned a reputation as an all-conditions pro: a creative aerial technician in smaller waves and a fearless tube rider 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 reached #7 in the rankings, earned his first big-league pro win at the Hossegor Rip Curl Pro in France, and was named “Breakthrough Surfer of the Year” at the Surfer Magazine Readers Poll Awards.

In 2001, at age 22, Hobgood won the ASP World Title. He continued on the World Tour for a 15-year career placing numerous times in the top ten and becoming one of the most respected surfers of any era. Hobgood also earned a reputation as one of the most likable pro surfers of his era. Since 2003, Hobgood and his brother, Damien have held Camp Hobgood, a roving international 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).

Photos by Tom Dugan / ESM, Dick “Mez” Meseroll / ESM Tom Servais / A-Frame, and courtesy of the Goods family