CJ Hobgood Talks Twins, Hard Times & The Man Upstairs


CJ Hobgood is thanking his lucky stars right now. He’s gone from 2001 World Champion to sponsorless living at home with his parents, to hitting the reset button on a new label that’s paved a future, brought he and his wife closer together, opened new conversations with old buddies, and perhaps even kept him on tour for two years longer than initially planned, which is only testament to CJ’s character. Remember only some short years ago, Clifton James Hobgood was the Tour’s dangerman at any Pacific lefthander. Between he and his twin brother Damien, the pair amassed 10 finals from Fiji and Chopes and stamped their authority all over the Taylor Steele and Joe G catalogues. Now it’s time for CJ to share his wisdom from a life spent in the ocean…

Sibling Rivalries… As identical twins, we always saw it as a hinderance to our careers. Riding for the same sponsor, everyone thought we were competing with one another but without the other one, there’s no way we would have been as good as we were. It made us dig deeper. It’s hard when you’re trying to find your identity, to find your story. There wasn’t enough of a differentiation between us. So we tried to do it every which way with sponsors, and it felt like a curse. We did surf a handful of heats together, and Damien’s actually beat me more times than I’ve beaten him… but I only remember the times that I win. Looking back, all those things which we thought were a curse were actually a blessing.

Gemini Vibes… Friends would call it E.T. or ‘the evil twin’. They would say I had the short fuse and Damien was more patient. People that really knew us well would play on that alot.

Double Take… The worst example I remember is this one photo in a surf magazine where you could perfectly see Oakley. Hands down the editor knew it was Damien, but for the mere fact that I had already qualified on tour and was receiving more press at the time, he put my name down instead. That was tough for Damien. It put pressure on him to make the tour.

Religion… I always had a healthy fear of God. But even when I was a kid it was more of a bartering system. Like, “Hey let me get on tour and I won’t do this anymore,” which negates any sort of relationship. When you’re a kid you don’t understand that relationships don’t work like that. As I got older and success went my way, I stopped and thought, “Wait a minute, I’m actually pretty screwed up and all the things I thought I wanted didn’t actually fulfill me, so who am I as a person?” I found who I needed at those times when I drew close to God.

Rock Bottom… I was divorced and I lost my sponsors. I was living at home with my parents. I lost a lot of the rights to see my kid. It’s life. It helped make me the person that I am today. I would think people without belief would struggle in those situations. But then I also think, “Maybe I’m just really weak? Maybe I’m just way more screwed up than everyone else?” I’m not judging anyone.

War… It happens everyday. I think it’s biblical to an extent. It’s killed probably more people than anything else. It’s never going to go away, it’s always prevalent and it will continue to be. People will be at each other’s throats ’til the end of the world. They have been for thousands of years. Do I freak out because Trump’s the president? No I don’t at all, because I believe God is in control. No matter who’s at war, I believe in a God that’s in control and if I have to go to war, so be it.

Starting up with Salty Crew… We’re not really making anything. But I think it’s an awesome ride, and I really believe in what these guys are doing. I remember setting up an expo for a surf event during the Pipe contest. And people were saying “what are you doing emailing me right now? You’re about to go surf your last heat at Pipe.” And I would just say, “that’s not my life anymore. This is what I believe in. This is what I want.” It happened a lot faster than we anticipated.

Andy… I remember surfing this weird swell with him in Fiji. Super high tide and stormy. At Restaurants there’s a shelf where you can’t push any deeper but this day, way past the rock was a full pit section with a really good track. We were cutting out before the rock and then Andy caught one crazy bomb. I don’t know how he did it but he got spat out way past the rock. To this day I’ve never seen anyone else do that.


Hugh Wyllie