Sao Miguel, Azores Islands (Saturday, October 1, 2011) – C.J. Hobgood (Melbourne, Florida, USA) 32, has won the ASP PRIME Billabong Azores Islands defeating Nate Yeomans (San Clemente, CA) 30, in an epic encounter which came down to an explosive final seven minutes with the lead changing, 17.53 to 15.33 in tricky 3-4ft wind affected peaks at Praia de Santa Barbara.
Hobgood looked gone for all money with under 10 minutes remaining to eventually answer back with a huge front-side air to claim a 9.03 (out of 10) and get back into the Finals race. Yeomans came back with his own excellent ride of 8.33 to leave Hobgood needing another solid score to take the win. With less than two minutes on the clock, Hobgood snuck under the radar and pulled a massive fins-free snap and carve to claim an 8.50 to culminate an amazing come-from-behind win.
“It was an amazing last five minutes. The first 30 minutes I was in melt down mode and Yeomans was getting all the waves and I couldn’t get more than a 3. I kept putting my head down and the conditions are so testing just mentally and physically not knowing which is a good wave or a bad wave. I kept trying and didn’t give up and the next thing I knew I was in the lead and the heat was over.”
“If you are going to do it,” continued Hobgood, “it is always good to come back but then again it is not always good to put yourself in a deep hole. For some reason that is the way I surf and do it I suppose. (laughs)”
Hobgood, who recently missed the mid-year cut and dropped out of the elite ASP World Tour, has come back with vengeance demonstrating his ability to mix it with the new up-and-comers battling it out on the PRIME series. Keen to improve his surfing, Hobgood is learning from his younger counterparts and applying it to his approach.
“I want to improve on my surfing and these kids that are on tour are doing airs all the time so I wanted to pull that into my game a little more. I don’t know what it looked like but I was just trying to change stuff and mix it up. I hadn’t been to the Azores so I wanted to do something different and whatever I did I wanted to switch it up and have fun and stoked to win this contest.”
Yeomans, ranked nº81 before the Billabong Azores Islands Pro, was the inform surfer of the event with his controlled power surfing in the choppy conditions. The Final was within his grasp as he built on his total finishing with a polished snap and double rail-grab air to put the pressure back onto Hobgood. His decision not to take that last scoring wave of the clash proved to be a costly decision.
“It was one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations. There were two minutes left and it was tough. In hindsight I would have gone but the thing had only one move and he (Hobgood) maximized it. It was a tough one to let go by and I saw some air and I heard the crowd go wild. I’m still stoked with second and I haven’t been on the podium for a while so I’m stoked.”
Yeomans now moves onto more events in Santa Cruz where he has won before and to the upcoming contests in Hawaii where he feels comfortable. With added confidence from his Finals finish in Azores, Yeomans is preparing for the remainder of the year and remains positive with his runner-up placing and 5,200 valuable ranking points.
“I have had a lot of good heats and it is tough to get so close to a win and miss it especially in that sort of scenario but I can’t be bummed. Twenty grand for a week of surfing, there are no complaints out of me. Overall I am stoked.”
Tiago Camarao (Sao Paulo, BRA) 23, made his third semi-final of the year and narrowly lost out to Hobgood in a titanic semi-final struggle that also went all the way to the wire with the last paddle battle on the siren adding to the tension of the situation. Camarao was coming home strongly with his last wave a solid 6.17 (out of10) to mount the pressure on his opponent. Still trailing, Camarao gave it all he had but was beaten by seconds on the clock from possibly making his first final of the year.
“It was really hard that semi. I saw C.J got high scores against Kolohe so I thought our semi would be the same. The waves in the end got a little worse so in the end it was 6’s that were the top scores. In the end we had a really close situation on the last paddle but it was after the horn so congrats to him.”
The high flying Brazilian, ranked nº50 before this event, equals his highest points result for the 52-week season and will jump closer to the bubble of qualifying for the elite ASP Top 32 and the end of year cut-off.
“It is a good result for me but it is my third semi-final of the year. I have been trying so hard to make a final this year so maybe the next event. (laughs) I’m stoked to be in the semis but I wish I can get to the final one day.”
Jay Quinn (NZL) 28, finished equal 3rd in a close battle against Yeomans in their low scoring semi-final encounter. Needing only a modest score to take the lead with only minutes left, Quinn fell on his last turn and came up short on the score required. The talented Kiwi is travelling with his wife and the couple are expecting their first child later this year. Despite being obviously upset, Quinn secured his best result of the year in the all important PRIME events.
“I pretty much just had to stay on my feet and I would have made it. I am really disappointed at the moment because I had one foot in the door and didn’t take advantage of it. I am off to Santa Cruz and then Kangaroo Island and then the baby is due so that is the plan for the moment.”
Romain Cloitre (REU) 23, today clinched the 2011 ASP European Open championship to cap off a spectacular season which was highlighted by his victory in the ASP 6-Star event in Newquay in August. 2007 European Junior champion, Cloitre has shown that he is one of the up-and-coming Europeans out to take on the world’s best surfers on the ASP Star and PRIME events.
“I am really stoked to win this title and I won the Junior title and now the Open so it is amazing. Newquay for sure would have to be the highlight of the year. It was my first victory in a 6-Star event and it was here in Europe so it was great. Before Newquay I did not have a lot of confidence but after that I felt a lot better. I am still working hard and this has also given me confidence for the next event and for 2012.”
Cloitre had to watch on as his nearest rival Alain Riou (PYF) gave his last throw of the dice to take away the title. Needing to make the quarterfinals, Riou fell short by only one heat when being taken out by Jay Quinn (NZL) in the Round of 12. A well liked and well deserved winner of this year’s European title, Cloitre now has his focus on the remainder of the 2011 season and a full 2012 campaign to come.
“I was a little bit nervous at the end because Alain was still going and if he made the quarters he would have won. In the end it was not possible so I am very happy to win this title. It is good to finish like this in Europe and now I can focus on the next event in Brazil and the rest of the events in the year.”
The ASP 6-Star Billabong Girls Azores Islands Pro and the ASP PRIME Billabong Azores Islands Pro were scheduled from September 26 to October 2, 2011. For more information, and all upcoming results, photos, video highlights, press releases and LIVE webcast log-on to; www.aspeurope.com
ASP PRIME Billabong Azores Islands Pro Final
C.J. Hobgood (USA) 17.53 Def. Nate Yeomans (USA) 15.33
ASP PRIME Billabong Azores Islands Pro Semi-final Results
Heat 1: Nate Yeomans (USA) 11.23 Def. Jay Quinn (NZL) 10.67
Heat 2: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 11.46 Def. Thiago Camarao (BRA)
ASP PRIME Billabong Azores Islands Pro Quarterfinal Results
Heat 1: Nate Yeomans (USA) 14.23 Def. Miguel Pupo (BRA) 13.77
Heat 2: Jay Quinn (NZL) 12.67 Def. Leonardo Neves (BRA) 8.87
Heat 3: Thiago Camarao (BRA) 13.56 Def. Fredrick Patacchia (HAW) 11.40
Heat 4: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 14.60 Def. Kolohe Andino (USA) 10.94
ASP European Open Final 2011 Rankings Top 5
1st Romain Cloitre (REU) 4959 points
2nd Alain Riou (PYF) 4775 points
3rd Aritz Aranburu (EUK) 4675 points
4th Tim Boal (FRA) 4221 points
5th Glen Hall (IRL) 4213 points