While catching the “perfect” wave depends very much on position, timing, tide, cosmos, geomagnetic pull, and other scientific stuff I care not to delve into, it’s the feat of riding that wave “perfectly” that proves to be the hard part. For every [does quick back-of-the-envelope calculation], say, 200 perfect waves that come the average surfer’s way, only one of them is actually ridden perfectly. So when you do pull off one of these rare rides, it makes sense that you would throw your hands up and claim the shit out of it (See: Gabriel Medina’s 2014 title run, Filipe Toledo in anything under three-foot, and Adriano de Souza on anything scoring five points or higher). So when CJ Hobgood pulled in to that throaty ten-point ride at Teahupoo and rode out behind the foamball, well that was worthy of the heaviest hands-to-the-sky claim to date. Instead, the retiring tubehound gave it a shrug, literally, and paddled back out to the takeoff spot. Inside he was doing backflips, but on the outside he was as calm and composed as ever, like it didn’t even happen.
What happened post-heat was just as impressive. Where many would go on to hype up such a wave, Ceej showed up for his date with Rosy Hodge and downplayed the wave to being something that wasn’t of his working. It was just luck, “angels and fluffy pillows.” But most of all, he was outspoken about the fact that it wasn’t his superior wave shredding capability. For that lack of a claim, the wave became so much cooler, and so did the former World Champ. We all know the average surfer wouldn’t have even made the drop. Even a majority of the Top 34 would have gotten eaten alive by the foamball. But CJ didn’t get eaten alive, nor did he claim the wave, and that’s a feat in itself.