Interview by Matt Walker
CJ Hobgood — former world champ, identical twin, and social media maven — is joining forces with Quiet Flight, the same company that Matt Kechele first flew on (and shaped for) and where a pint-sized Kelly Slater got his shot-sized glass slippers. Today, the former Cocoa Beach cottage factory is Florida’s largest surfboard armory, producing quality weapons for any number of respected wave warriors, from Asher Nolan to Bryan Hewitson to CJ’s brother Damo. Now they’ve locked down the 2001 world champ. The goal? Better equipment for all — starting with CJ himself, who took a recent lay day in Brazil to answer annoying questions about his “World Tour slump” and discuss the ongoing quest to replace last fall’s stolen magic quiver.
SURFING Magazine: Is stepping onto a new label a hard transition?
It’s not hard at all. A good board is a good board. You can normally tell that by the second wave?. Plus, the relationship was already there, and with The Goods shop closing we thought the time was right. My brother had some great years with [Quiet Flight], so we’ve taken that experience and are trying to make it better. I still get boards off everybody — since that’s what I’ve been doing for a few years — and they support that. But our main goal is working with Bruce Regan so he can get me on a steady flow of boards while pumping out even better boards for the Quiet Flight consumer.
Who will you go to outside the Quiet Flight stable for inspiration and one-offs?
Of course, Gally [Chris Gallagher] and Bill [Johnson]. I’ve been getting some Mayhems and Tokoros. But my motto is, Never stop searching for that magic board — and really, anyone can shape a good one. Why, you wanna make me a board?
Better learn to ride one first. What were you riding at Bells? What are you on in Brazil? And what’s the difference?
CGD [Chris Gallagher] at Bells and here in Brazil. But the reality is, after losing 10 boards last year, I haven’t managed to get a good magic groveler back in the quiver. I have this epoxy swallow for Brazil. It’s my best board but it’s not magic. No excuses, I would never blame my equipment for losing but — since you asked — I have good boards, just not great boards. But I’ve been ordering a lot, so it will happen soon enough.
Speaking of losing, a certain website called you out pretty hard post-Bells? Does it seem premature?
It’s not early. I’ve been surfing like crap in my heats this year no doubt, so I think that’s what should be said— that’s reality! I guess I haven’t been inspired. The emotions aren’t there: the heart, the desire to win. I’ve been trying to do things a little different to see if that will spark the fire again, but it hasn’t happened YET. It will happen, though. I’m not on drugs or anything. I still love surfing so much and I’m in a very happy place with my life.
Care to respond to the criticism?
You’ll never get me to respond. It’s cool when people say you’re stinking it up, ‘cause then when you come back they start claiming you. In sports we all love an underdog story (Giants beating the Pats in the? Super Bowl). I respect Ian [Cairns’s] opinion. But I think when he writes, he takes an underdog story of someone winning and says their surfing is amazing, when in reality, they just competed better. For example, in his Taylor Knox review, Ian said that Jadson Andre is going to be giving Taylor 17ths all day if he doesn’t fix his surfing. Last time I checked, Taylor is 2nd only to Kelly Slater in heats surfed all-time on tour. And not to take anything away from Jadson, but he has surfed four.
Right now, your best result isn’t even from the World Tour — it’s from that Prime contest win during your last visit to Brazil. Does this WT system make for more pressure? Less? Or is it just confusing?
More pressure. And that’s the way it should be?.
As a former straight-A student, do you find yourself having to explain the mathematical details to today’s young rookies?
No! These kids are smart. I asked the Gudangs to teach me some grammar today?. I can’t spell anything, not even my name, everyone knows that.
Before we go, any more big deals in the works?
I’m working on making a grammar punctuation application for Twitter. The brain’s always turning over.