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DAMIEN HOBGOOD TAKES VICTORY IN GLOBE WCT FIJI
News provided by ASP World Tour on 30 May 2006
Flashy Floridian Damien Hobgood (USA) has won the Globe WCT Fiji in near perfect two metre (six foot) waves on the reef known as Cloudbreak.
Hobgood outpointed Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour rookie Shaun Cansdell who hails from country New South Wales, Australia.
The final was a superb ending to an incredible event, which showcased some of the finest surfing ever in some of the best waves in the world.
Both surfers in the final were easily the form athletes of the event and in the hotly contested 30-minute affair, Hobgood grabbed the upper-hand early and went on with the job to take a well-deserved victory.
The turning point in the final came when both surfers took advantage of a set with Cansdell taking the first, using his priority.
While Cansdell’s wave was solid it was nothing on Hobgood’s, which was larger and had a tremendous barrel section.
That particular wave scored a 9.17 after he sat in underneath the lip for a number of seconds and from there, everything swung in Hobgood’s favour.
“The second wave in that set was really doubling up on itself and it looked really glassy so I started going for the barrel,” said Hobgood. “I then remembered what I was yelling to CJ in the heat before… to go for turns… but it barrelled and it reeled all the way down the line.”
After the set the ocean, which had been pumping in simply flawless waves all day, slowed and Hobgood squeezed what he could out of the swell to get revenge for Cansdell’s defeat over his twin brother in the second semi-final, while Cansdell was stuck for quality waves.
“This is awesome!” said Hobgood. “Shaun Cansdell took down my brother and he was just surfing so good. The wind turned a little more onshore and I felt Cansdell’s turns were a lot better than mine and I knew I really had to do something. Fortunately I had the better of that exchange early and was able to get on a roll.”
Hobgood was forced to miss last year’s event after succumbing to a shoulder injury in the event prior to the 2005 version of the Globe WCT Fiji and this year’s victory was as he said “truly a blessing”.
“It’s great to grab the win [after missing the event last year]. It was hard watching back then but things happen for a reason and I was just praising the Lord to be back here in this beautiful place again. There’s no event that you want to win more than your sponsor’s event and it’s great to claim one for Globe.”
The win for Hobgood is his third Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour victory and the fine result now places him in third place on the ratings behind second placed Bobby Martinez (USA) and number one ranked Kelly Slater (USA).
Sitting a mere two points in front of three-time world champ Andy Irons (HAW) (see the full ratings below) he is well within reach of having a full on assault at this year’s crown.
For rookie Cansdell the final was literally a dream come true and although he couldn’t overcome the rampaging Hobgood, the result has given him a huge confidence boost that should augur well for him claiming a win in his debut season.
“It was a good final. I’m a bit disappointed that I didn’t put together a really good heat but I’m still stoked to get second in an event and just get to a final at this level,” said Cansdell. “I’ve always expected the most out myself and that’s what it takes. I’m just so stoked. It’s a dream of mine to come here and the place is as good as I ever imagined.
“The turning point in the final was that set when I took off on the first one and Damien had the second, because after that no more really good ones came in. I was sitting waiting and being patient and then I grabbed a wave and lost priority and it all fell apart from there.”
On somewhat of a roll after a fifth placing in event number two at Bells Beach, Australia, the youngster’s confidence is growing all the time, and it showed in the way he defeated CJ Hobgood earlier.
His turns were surgically precise as he sliced into the most critical sections to oust the former 2001 Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour champion from the event.
“Getting the fifth at Bells gave me a lot of confidence and I just hope I can keep the roll going. I’m always learning every heat and taking what I learn into the next event.”
In the first semi Andy Irons was taken out by Damien Hobgood in a one sided affair that saw Irons struggle to find the bigger scoring waves.
And despite not being at full strength due to an infection he picked up while competing in the previous event in Tahiti, his performance was admirable and the result for him also has him in a position where he can still challenge for the world title.
In what was probably the most entertaining heat of the day, the CJ Hobgood and Shaun Cansdell semifinal two showdown had the vocal crowd screaming themselves hoarse.
Going blow for blow it was in no way an easy encounter for either yet the rookie prevailed on the day through sheer brilliance.
Damien Hobgood was full of praise for the the multitude of tour rookies who he envisions will cause more upsets before the year is done.
“The guys who retired at the end of last year were so good and I thought that maybe this year wouldn’t be as gnarly as last year with all the new faces. But I think now that these guys are going to be even gnarlier because they are all just really good surfers.”
In what is a contrasting ratings scenario to that of last year, the top 10 is littered with a mix new school and old school movers alike.
Rookie Martinez, who was defeated by CJ Hobgood in the quarterfinals, is still on track to claiming a world crown in his maiden after his consistent run, while Damien Hobgood, as mentioned previously, is now lurking just behind.
With the Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour now moving to Mexico for event number five, the Rip Curl Search WCT, the race for the 2006 title is beginning to intensify.
Round four results:
Heat 1: Tom Whitaker (AUS) 14.50 def. Troy Brooks (AUS) 13.07
Heat 2: Damien Hobgood (USA) 7.17 def. Darren O’Rafferty (AUS) 4.50
Heat 3: Tim Reyes (USA) 13.83 def. Nathan Hedge (AUS) 13.33
Heat 4: Andy Irons (HAW) 16.50 def. Trent Munro (AUS) 11.83
Heat 5: Bobby Martinez (USA) 14.50 def. Danny Wills (AUS) 5.00
Heat 6: CJ Hobgood (USA) 17.77 def. Mick Fanning (AUS) 13.67
Heat 7: Taj Burrow (AUS) 9.00 def. Luke Stedman (AUS) 1.53
Heat 8: Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 17.67 def. Bede Durbidge (AUS) 12.50
Quarterfinal 1: Damien Hobgood 15.34 def. Whitaker 13.83
Quarterfinal 2: Irons 15.50 def. Reyes 11.20
Quarterfinal 3: CJ Hobgood 17.34 def. Martinez 10.17
Quarterfinal 4: Cansdell 17.67 def. Durbidge 12.50
Semifinal 1: Damien Hobgood 15.00 def. Irons 10.34
Semifinal2: Cansdell 15.16 def. CJ Hobgood 11.66
Damien Hobgood 15.40 def. Cansdell 10.50
Foster’s ASP Men’s World Tour Ratings after event #4
The Globe WCT Fiji
1. Kelly Slater (USA) 3501
2. Bobby Martinez (USA) 3408
3. Damien Hobgood (USA) 2942
4. Andy Irons (HAW) 2940
5. Taj Burrow (AUS) 2774
6. Taylor Knox (USA) 3358
7. Joel Parkinson (AUS) 3376
8. Shaun Cansdell (AUS) 2399
9. CJ Hobgood (USA) 2296
10. Bruce Irons (HAW) 2152