Once a year, the Surfers’ Hall of Fame pours some wet concrete in Huntington Beach so that a few giants of our sport can stomp a permanent reminder of the footprint they’ve left in surfing over the span of their careers. In 2015, joining the like of Andy Irons, Kelly Slater, Shaun Tomson, Rabbit Kekai, and more, are three men worthy of the distinction. "The Surfers' Hall of Fame is honored to induct CJ Hobgood, Gordon Clark, and John Davis this July," said founder Aaron Pai. "Each inductee has brought something different and unique to our sport of surfing. We are stoked and fortunate to include them into our growing family of surfing royalty." Here are your 2015 inductees:
CLIFTON JAMES “CJ” HOBGOOD
Floridians CJ and twin brother Damien were born in 1979 and began riding waves together at an early age. CJ won the menehune division of the 1991 Eastern Surfing Association Championships, setting up a long run at the top of the national amateur ranks. He was the National Scholastic Surfing Association (NSSA) national juniors’ champion in 1995 and in 1997 he became the NSSA East Coast men’s champion. CJ turned pro in 1998 and finished the 1999 season ranked 18th in the world, receiving ASP Rookie of the Year honors. He quickly earned a reputation as an all-conditions pro; a creative aerial technician in smaller waves and a fearless tuberider at places like Pipeline and Teahupoo. CJ earned his first big-league pro win at the 2000 Hossegor Rip Curl Pro and was named as “Breakthrough Surfer of the Year” at the SURFER Poll Awards. The tenacious goofy-footer finished fourth in 2004 and won the 2007 U.S. Open of Surfing. Since 2003, CJ and Damien have held Camp Hobgood, a roving international surf retreat for rising young pros. CJ has appeared in dozens of surf videos including Triple C (1996), Sacred Water (1999), Campaign (2003), A Brokedown Melody (2004), and Year Zero (2011).
GORDON “GRUBBY” CLARK
Gordon Clark was born in 1931 in Los Angeles, raised in Whittier, and learned to surf while attending Pomona College in the late ’40s and early ’50s, where he earned a B.S. in engineering. His first surfboard was made of redwood and weighed 90 pounds, a far cry from his future quiver. In 1955, after spending two years in the army, Clark was working as a laminator for Hobie Surfboards, the soon-to-be world’s largest board manufacturer. Clark began to develop polyurethane foam molds in the mid-’50s, looking for a replacement material for balsa wood, which was costly and often hard to find (in 1958 Hobie Surfboards switched entirely from balsa to foam). Clark made an amicable split from Hobie in 1961 to form Clark Foam in Laguna Canyon-later relocated to Laguna Niguel-and by the mid-’60s Clark had become the runaway leader in blank production. SURFER Magazine eventually named Clark the 10th most influential surfer of the 20th century. In 2002, SURFER ranked him No. 2, behind Quiksilver CEO Bob McKnight, on their list of the “25 Most Powerful People in Surfing.”
Born in Lynwood in 1951, John learned to surf at age 12 on a "lined-up wave" at Doheny on a Dewey Weber board and "was hooked for life." By the mid- to late-sixties he was a hot teenage surfer sponsored by "The Greek" Surfboards, doing well in local amateur events and was elected the first Surf Club Team Captain of the Huntington Beach High School surf team in 1967. John took his talents to Oahu where he raised more than a few eyebrows with a 2nd place finish at the 1969 Sea Spree at Haleiwa behind Fred Hemmings and a 3rd place at Honolua Bay in 1970 finishing behind the legendary Gerry Lopez and Barry Kanaiapuna. John surprised many in the surf world when he won the North Shore Trials of the Smirnoff Pro Am at Sunset Beach ahead of Australian Mark Warren in 1972. In 1973, when the U.S. Surfing Championships moved to Malibu, John had to start at the bottom and work his way through the trials, which he won. He would ultimately place third in the main event behind Hawaiians Larry Bertleman and Mike Smith. That would be his final foray into competitive surfing as John began a lengthy battle with addiction that would change his life and ultimately lead him to his current role as the President of Akua Mind and Body, an addiction treatment facility in Orange County. Although John counts surfing legends like John Boozer, Phil Edwards, and Gerry Lopez among his idols, his biggest "surf" influence was Bob "The Greek" Bolen, who has sponsored John for 50 years and finally made him his own signature model. John is a regular on the Huntington Beach Pier north side almost every day.
All photos courtesy of Surfers’ Hall of Fame.