Surf: Four to six and smoking
Events held: Round Four through final
Nature’s call: Hallelujah
Predicted: {{{CJ}}} keeps it going into Fiji

“Is there any way to put it back in?” Nathan Hedge asked when he should’ve been writhing in pain. Two minutes into the final (the first final of his four -year WCT career), finally, before any vicaden or morphine, the realities of surfing Teahupo’o were kicking in. Cringing on the back of a water patrol jet ski he couldn’t be helped; with the tension of three tight heats (T. Knox, Damien Hobgood, Andy Irons, in that order) still in his muscles there was nothing the medics could do to reset his dislocated shoulder. All he could really do was lay and watch CJ Hobgood pump through a three- section racetrack with a big, thirty thousand dollar smile.

But, it should be said of both the meaty grinder that sent Hedge to the doctor on his first ever finals wave, and the flawless funnel of CJ’S just described, that both these rides describe the commitment needed to make a WCT final in 2004. It’s scary really, if you think of the way Hedge was spun like a top and driven into the hungry reef when flying through that first wave. And also, how hard it must be to beat a guy like Andy Irons these days. After stopping a Damien Hobgood in-the-tube takeoff to foam ball floater perfect 10.0 in the quarters, it wasn’t too to accept a solid Nathan Hedge equal 3rd; it would’ve been very respectable. His quiet intensity was admirable and his rail work fine, but the chances of him stopping Andy Irons just didn’t seem right. So when the channels roar went ” Go Hoggady!” from every Mick Fanning to Danny Wills, when the last minute wave was made, a 9.1 Pipeline plus, then you should know the world champ was a little shocked. Tahiti is his playground. But the Hedge Hog was off his rock. Andy took a bad wave when he could’ve held priority and that was it: Hedge found glory with thirty seconds to spare.

There aren’t many guys comparable to Andy on tour right now; his overall wave savvy is too unique. There’s only a handful. Mick, Joel, Kelly, these guys are obvious, but then, what about CJ Hobgood? We can’t forget that last year before his big injury he was right on pace with every one of these guys. And if we did, then he’s shook all of our memories right here today. Aside from his loose, fearless style, also, check out the precise competitive mind that sits on Mr. Hobgood, used to punk a crazed ripping Kelly Slater in semi two: ” I was talking with my brother before the heat, about something Kelly always says, “you’ve got to be careful when you peak,’ and I was pretty sure he’d already had three heats with all tens and nines, but I’d just had my first good heat in the quarters (a perfect ten) so I knew I might be on my way up when he was on the downslide.” Only Kelly Slater is not on the downslide yet. He charged and weaved many long tunnels up with brother Ceej, under a magnificent rainbow, and he gave a very good showing that was not enough. Or, maybe it was, in a way. Kelly appears very happy right now. He said of his showing, optimistically, ” This was a rare feeling; to having everyone cheering so loudly when I’d get a good wave.” And he’s right — with the Hinano drunken locals all out in their rafts and boats, it looked more like Lake Havasu than Teahupo’o. It’s a wild world out here in pro surf land, where dudes like Kelly and Andy roam. And also CJ Hobgood and Nathan Hedge and so many others we shouldn’t count out, no matter how easy that may be — one where 2001 world champ, CJ Hobgood, is definitely back in class. One where current world champ, Andy Irons, says, ” I’m not thinking about the next title, but taking it one heat at a time.” This strange world is where dudes get the best tube of your life to lose a close heat. It’s a world where they surf hotter than anything you’ve ever daydreamed in the seventh grade — where CJ Hobgood can dedicate the win to his wife, pack his bags for Fiji and be very comfortable back in the top five. Hagan Kelley

Billabong Pro Teahupoo
1st CJ Hobgood (USA) 16.66 – US$30,000
2nd Nathan Hedge (AUS) 8.67 – US$16,000

Semifinals (1st>Final; 2nd=3rd receives US$10,000)
SF1: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 16.83 def. Andy Irons (HAW) 15.5
SF2: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 19.84 def. Kelly Slater (USA) 17.03

Quarterfinals (1st>Semifinals; 2nd=5th receives US$8,000)
QF1: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 17.{{{57}}} def. Damien Hobgood (USA) 16.17
QF2: Andy Irons (HAW) 17.83 def. Sunny Garcia (HAW) 13.0
QF3: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 19.7 def. Daniel Wills (AUS) 8.5
QF4: Kelly Slater (USA) 19.0 def. Luke Egan (AUS) 14.84

Round Four (1st>Quarterfinals; 2nd=9th receives US$5,000)
{{{H1}}}: Damien Hobgood (USA) 17.67 def. Mark Occhilupo (AUS) 13.83
{{{H2}}}: Nathan Hedge (AUS) 16.67 def. Taylor Knox (USA) 15.83
{{{H3}}}: Sunny Garcia (HAW) 18.47 def. Troy Brooks (AUS) 17.5
H4: Andy Irons (HAW) 15.0 def. Lee Winkler (AUS) 11.4
H5: C.J. Hobgood (USA) 16.43 def. Hira Teriinatoofa (PYF) 15.37
H6: Daniel Wills (AUS) 14.0 def. Trent Munro (AUS) 5.33
H7: Kelly Slater (USA) 18.6 def. Peterson Rosa (BRA) 4.57
H8: Luke Egan (AUS) 13.77 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.66

Remaining Round Three Heats (1st>Rnd4; 2nd=17th receives US$4,225)
H15: Mick Fanning (AUS) 17.6 def. Tim Curran (USA) 17.1
H16: Luke Egan (AUS) 17.5 def. Kalani Robb (HAW) 13.9

Official ASP Ratings after WCT #3
1. Andy Irons (HAW) 2,784-points
2. Kelly Slater (USA) 2,340
=3. Taj Burrow (AUS); Nathan Hedge (AUS) 2,112
=5. Joel Parkinson (AUS); CJ Hobgood (USA) 2,088