CLOUDBREAK, Tavarua/Fiji (Friday, May 31, 2013) â€“ C.J. Hobgood (USA), 33, current ASP No. 16, has been traveling to Fiji since he was 15 years old. Entering the Volcom Fiji Pro as an event favorite, the veteran will bring nearly 20 years of experience back to the waves that have helped shape his reputation as one of the best goofy-footed barrel-riders of all time.
While the open ocean monster of Cloudbreak and the high performance machine of Restaurants were absent from the ASP WCT schedule for several years, Hobgood has returned annually since his maiden Fijian pilgrimage as a teen and his comfort in the powerful Cloudbreak lineup shone through last year while posting his season-best 3rd-place finish. With the Volcom Fiji Pro waiting period just days from commencement, the ASP caught up with Hobgood to get some insight on the upcoming event. Thisâ€¦ is his storyâ€¦
This event really couldn't be any more different than Rio, going from shifty beachbreak to open ocean barrels. How much does that change the dynamic when you're surfing a heat?
"Well, it doesn't change the dynamic of the actual heat because its still a heat and you need to be on the best waves, but at the same time, it does change because Cloudbreak is such a big playing field," Hobgood said. "You need to know where you're at in the lineup and be comfortable with that. Also they are long waves. You're riding them for longer and need to do what the wave says at that time."
You and Damien are always favorites to watch in Fiji and clearly have a lot of experience in the lineup at Cloudbreak and Restaurants. When did you start going to Fiji and is it a place you've always tried to get back to when it wasn't a stop on tour?
"Damien and I have been going there since we were 15 and always try to get there at least once a year."
I'm sure you've seen a lot of historic moments in Fiji and it seems like a magical place. What are some of your top memories from this event?
"Each year is different, but last year I think topped everything. The waves we had that one afternoon is something that I'll never forget."
This event is probably one of your strongest stops on tour when it's on so do you feel like that also adds pressure to perform when people are touting you as an event favorite?
"It's great that people say nice things and think highly of me when it comes to Fiji but really as a competitor you have to believe you're deadly in all conditions at anytime during every event."
Cloudbreak and Restaurants are such different waves and it must change the dynamic of the competition. Obviously both are world class, but which do you prefer when it comes to surfing a heat?
"I'd rather surf Cloudbreak on the ledge, but restaurants is pretty special because it doesn't break as often and just everything about it, it's my favorite wave in the world for sure."
It seems like The Volcom Fiji Pro is an event that would favor veteran surfers, with experience playing a big factor, but then we saw (/athletes/1085/gabriel-medina)[Gabriel Medina] make the final last year. How much does experience play a role at this event?
"Gabriel Medina is a special surfer, one of the best goofies to ever live. I've always said that and he had a break out event at Fiji witch is amazing for the tour. With that said, it does help to know your way around the lineup especially at Cloudbreak. It helps to have water time."
Every year someone new seems to rise to the occasion and turn heads when it gets big. What new faces do you think will rise to the top this year?
"All the new faces have already risen to the top and where only 3 events in."
Watch Hobgood compete at the Volcom Fiji Pro from June 2-14, 2013.