All Photos: Corey Wilson
“I’m racing for it, and these two angels on these fluffy little pillows went wawww and I saw the light.” That’s what CJ Hobgood had to say to Rosy Hodge (and the world) in his post heat interview at the 2015 Billabong Pro Tahiti today. And he wasn’t on acid. Nor was he concussed. Just all hopped up on the thrill of a getting a judge-certified perfect wave at one of his favorite venues during his last lap on surfing’s elite tour. It’s a high stronger than that induced by any drug, we’re told. Even heroin. And this is what it looked like:
Not so bad for a guy whose current home is closer to DisneyWorld than it is to the beach — the Floridian beach, mind you. Not really a place known for producing waves that work out at the same gym as Teahupo’o (come at me with a Pumphouse reference if you absolutely fucking have to). But regardless of where CJ is from, he’s always had a special relationship with this Tahitian slice of terrifying heaven. CJ’s wave and its subsequent angels combined to produce the only 10 of the day. The wave came at the back end of CJ’s heat against Julian Wilson, which he arrived at thanks to a 9.80 at the back end of his Round 2 heat against Nat Young. (Note to Aritz Aranburu, who’ll face Ceej in Round 5: you don’t have the man beat until Miss Cannell’s microphone is pointed at your lips. Remember that.)
But it wasn’t an entirely perfect day for CJ — not all turtle doves and 10s. His fellow Floridian, Kelly Slater, used their non-elimination Round 4 heat to remind us all of why we’ll never be able to shake his name from a World Title discussion. Kelly’s deal-inking 9.77 in that heat was a thing of beauty. See for yourself:
Beautiful, right? And totally a thing. Especially because the WSL’s Top 3 guys going into this event all fell down and went boom. Adriano de Souza, Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson left the presumably sliding glass door wide open for guys like Owen Wright, Filipe Toledo and Kelly to walk on in. I just mentioned a lot of names, huh? That means the Title race will probably be a grand and glorious mess when it starts getting to be crunch time and/or prematurely hand the trophy over to Kelly again a la San Francisco, 2011. Remember how sloppy and fun? Like college!
Anyway, one guy who probably won’t be in the race is Gabriel Medina. The 2014 champ hasn’t exactly had the 2015 that dreams are made of. But that didn’t stop him from getting this wave:
Almost good for a 10. It was a 9.97 but who’s counting? (Al Hunt, probably.)
It’ll all wrap up tomorrow. As CJ concluded in the interview we talked about earlier, he’ll need eight more angels and four more fluffy pillows to get the job done. If anyone knows of a Bed Bath And Beyond or some sort of divine vortex in Tahiti, please let CJ know. Although something tells me that he’ll be just fine with the hefty dose of good swell that’s supposed to be filling in.