Globe WCT Fiji Finals Day:

Man, when that pair came out of the womb, they were both going left.
And this is not just some Globe-sponsored announcement. Those Hobgood boys can ride a lefthand barrel, and that was proved today when Damien Hobgood won his sponsor’s contest, the Globe WCT Fiji at Cloudbreak.

The day started at “sparrows fart” as we call it in Oz – the first heat was in the water at 6.30am – and it finished with a drunken wrestling tournament around the pool at Namotu Island, approximately five minutes ago. Andy’s just left Namotu on the last boat to Tavarua after his third place… and after watching a display of pirate-like debauchery the likes of which have not been seen in these islands since the 1700s. It’s 4am, and the presentation celebrations are finally winding down here. Shaun Cansdell, the Aussie rookie who finished runner-up to Damo, was last seen dancing on the bar before crashing to the ground. Then falling over. It’s not pretty, but you’re getting it nonetheless.

We’d painted ourselves into a corner with this contest. There were three days of the contest window left, but the last two were looking like a dog’s breakfast, with the northerly wind supposed to simultaneously kill the swell while adding speedbumps to the faces. It was now or never and the contest had to die today.

Where do we start today? Well we start with the fact the Aussie guys largely got worked over by the Americans. There were 16 guys at the start of today; 11 Australians and 5 Americans/Hawaiians. Andy took Trent Munro in round four, as Bobby took Willsy to continue his amazing rookie run. It took a Hobgood to finish Bobby’s shot at the number one slot. Bobby needed to make the semis to overtake the “only hurts when I laugh” rib-cartilage Kelly in the ratings. Bobby was left laughing anyway, as he’ll probably continue to do all year. His run still doesn’t appear to be slowing.

As we got to the semis the last guy flying the flag for Australia was the most unlikely: tour rookie Shaun Cansdell. The guy with the leaded backfoot immediately started looking good in the five foot lefts, taking down his good mate, Bede Durbidge in round four, then Taj Burrow in the quarters, before he spoiled the prospect of an all-Hobgood final by out-turning CJ in the semis when the barrels disappeared. Shaun employed the great Australian strategy of doing it first then thinking about it later. For a while there it looked as though we were replaying his section out of Campaign II… his frontside turns were all loose and fins-free.

Shaun’s progression through to the final gave the Aussie guys in the channel something to cheer about. One of the boats from Namotu resembled a sloop from Pirates of the Caribbean. Parko had flown back over for a family holiday after losing four days ago, and had immediately left his girls, Mon and Evie on the island to hang with his fellow pirates, donning a Rastafarian wig while brandishing a cutlass. Eugene Fanning had passed his alter ego, Mick Fanning, as they went through Fijian Customs, and by the time you read this has probably done enough to have himself deported.
By the time we got to the final the waves were good, but not great. The barrels had dried as fast as the reef was drying as the tide dropped, and it made the final between Damien and Shaun a little more hit-and-miss than we’d have liked. As soon as Damo connected with an inside point-runner for a 9.17 it was all over.

With Damo’s girl, Charlotte due to drop their grommet – little Savannah – within weeks, this was a big win for Damien. After finishing fourth in the ratings last year, even after popping a shoulder mid-season, he reckons he can shave a place or two off of that.

And as for me? Well, your correspondent will continue to turn his liver into an old boot in the interests of giving you guys something to squander your time on.

See you in Mexico, hombres.