Florida’s C.J. Hobgood, 29, won the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing in clean 20- to 30-foot wave face heights, making Hobgood the first goofy-footer in 11 years to win at Sunset Beach. Australia’s Michael Romelese was the last goofy-foot to win at Sunset in 1997, he also won the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing title the same year. On his backhand, Hobgood, who was the 2001 ASP World Champ, charged his way to victory, gnabbing the biggest wave of the 35-minute final. Hobgood was blown away by his first place finish and the massive waves.
"It’s perfect size and really clean. There was probably one or two sets a heat that were too big," Hobgood said. "Just some macking nuts waves out there." My usual experience out at Sunset is just getting worked pretty much. This ranks up there with my WT wins and everything else because I never totally pictured myself winning this contest so it ranks that much higher. "That just shows you what Sunset can do. You just roll the dice, go out and sometimes Mother Nature is good to you and other times it just beats you down. "There’s four guys out there, but you never really see your competitors the whole time. It’s Man versus Nature out there and that’s what makes Sunset so challenging and appealing." Hobgood avoided Sunset’s wrath and negotiated the giant walls of water beautifully, scoring an 8.5 and 6.5 rides to win the 6-Star Qualifying Series Event.
Australia’s Tom Whitaker, 29, also surfed well in the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing and finished runner-up. Whitaker was in awe of the quality of surf Sunset Beach. "It’s pretty much as dreamy as Sunset gets it’s beautifully clean and really, really good sized," Whitaker said. "It’s not too big and scary. It was just beautiful all day and I think I saw some of the best waves I’ve ever seen at Sunset. And, for the final day of the tournament to run in such good conditions it was really cool."
Sunset Beach local Marcus Hickman, 29, finished behind Whitaker in third place. He fell victim to poor wave selection, yet this was Hickman’s best Vans Triple Crown of Surfing performance to date. South Africa’s Jordy Smith, 20, finished in fourth place and never got in rhythm, breaking his board and injuring his right leg in the final. Smith has never finished lower than the quarterfinals at Sunset and this was his second finals appearance at the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing. Smith posted a 10-point ride earlier in the round of 32 by getting a tube. He also posted the highest heat score of the contest a 18.50 out of a possible 20 in the same round.
(Source: Event’s PR)C.J. Hobgood’s biography