He’s spent 17 years on Tour, he won a world title in 2001, and he made a name for himself as one of the hardest charging goofyfoots competitive surfing has ever seen. After all that, C.J. Hobgood announced today that this year will be his last on the World Tour. After his heat at Cloudbreak, C.J. Hobgood hopped off the Jet Ski for an interview and was asked to explain why he was wearing Kelly Slater’s No. 11 jersey out in the lineup.
“I mean, obviously anyone who has ever touched a surfboard or fallen in love with surfing owes Kelly a lot,” said Hobgood. “He’s inspired me as much as he’s inspired anyone else. At Bells, he was joking around on Instagram and had said he was retiring, and I saw him there and I told him, ‘Hey, I really am retiring this year Kelly, and I’d be stoked to wear your jersey.’ He said it’d be rad, so I told him I wanted to wear it in Fiji.”
Hobgood has been on the verge of retirement for a couple years now, but a couple of key results in waves he made his career in, namely Cloudbreak, Teahupoo, and Pipe, kept him competing among the world’s best 34 surfers. Last year, we sat down for an interview with Hobgood, who admitted he was ready to move on from the Tour life but was finding it hard to let go. From that interview, when asked how long he thought he’d stay on Tour:
“I'm definitely looking at things a lot differently these days, but that's a hard question. When the jersey is on, in that moment, I'm 100 percent committed to winning, but the rest of the time, I'm just in a different headspace entirely. When I was in my 20s I was making great money from my sponsors, but there was a lot of pressure to do well in events to keep those sponsors happy. Now the only people I need to keep happy are my wife and kids. I've got three girls now, so I'm not as concerned with points and ratings. I love competing, and I'm lucky to still have the ability to surf at this level, but honestly, I always pictured my career ending by the time I was 32. I'm 34 now, and besides winning Pipeline, I've achieved everything I could have ever dreamed of.”
He’ll have one more shot at that Pipeline trophy come December. Until then, we’ll leave you with his closing line today in Fiji: “I really want it to be my last year in a jersey. There’s a lot of joy, and I’m stoked. I’ll leave it at that.”