RIGHT FOOT FORWARD: Owen Wright wins a goofyfoot-heavy Hobgood Challenge presented by Pac Sun

posted by / News / February 13, 2007

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Nobody would’ve bet on it. Pulling up to a super-critical South Pacific reef pass — barreling righthanders rifling past — the smart gambler would wager a regularfoot winning the inaugural Hobgood Challenge presented by Pac Sun. But come last Wednesday afternoon, every naturalfoot found himself feeling quite unnatural, upset by Aussie super grom, goofyfoot and former ISA Under-16 champ Owen Wright in the ASP’s first ever Pro Junior invitational, a contest where every kid who put his left foot forward suffered defeat.


“I can’t believe it meself,” sputtered the lanky toehead after the final. “I guess the Hobgoods showed us all that frontside isn’t always an advantage.”

When {{{CJ}}} and Damien Hobgood selected six top international junior pros for this first-time specialty event at a secret Micronesain reef pass, they intentionally split the field between stances. But the mirror-image match-ups for this unique, man-on-man event came purely by chance.

The night before the contest, competitors gathered outside the twins’ room to draw heats, picking playing cards by porchlight. And when CJ finished putting black marker to plastic, the first round faced-off three pairs of opposites: Hawaii’s Dusty Payne against Bali’s Garut Widiarta; Maui’s Clay Marzo versus Florida’s Eric Geiselman; Owen Wright battling fellow Aussie Dion Atkinson. A quick secret poll had a regularfoot on the winners’ stand before the camp could bed down — even moreso when dawn broke to reveal a building swell of super-fast cylinders —but by the end of each heat, everyone was forced to rethink their assumptions.

First, Garut toppled Payne, coming out of a combo situation with a 9.75 pigdog down the reef to unseat the former National champ. Next, Marzo out maneuvered Geiselman, leaving the two time North American Pro Junior champion virtually waveless out the back while he spun circles around the inside bowl for the highest heat total of the first round. Then, Wright edged-out Dion 14 to 13 — breaking a board for one last scoring barrel.

But with Atkinson holding the highest heat score of the losers, he advanced to the semis where he soon capitalized his good fortune. While Owen made quick work of Garut —who kept getting eaten but never gave up —Marzo and Dion duked it out, wave for wave. Marzo kicked it off with a 9.0, cranking a beyond vert backside reo into a long midbreak drainer. But Dion immediately answered, backdooring a bomb set at the drop and never seeing sunlight til he kicked out past the boat for an insurmountable lead and highest score of the contest — a 9.99.

“I had to drag two arms on that one,” Dion later admitted.


Unfortunately, come the final, he was hitting the accelerator in a futile game of catch-up. While Wright showed superior wave selection, nailing off a 7.5 and 8.25 back-to-back, Dion got pinched on all his best scoring opportunities, struggling to post more than a 6. But his semi-final near perfect score still earned $500 and the Best Wave Award from Anon Eyewear.

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