Damien Hobgood, who won the ASP Prime Telstra Drug Aware Pro today, could easily have been quoting a line from Jerry Maguire. When it was suggested that the bag load of World Tour points he'd just racked up would help him stay in the Top 32 after the mid year cut off, Hobgood just laughed. "When you get to my age," he said, with his typical dry wit, "it's all about the money."
Hobgood survived a week of heats in some of the most demanding conditions for a surf contest: clean six-foot-plus surf to stormy 15-foot onshore to the final day's inconsistent three-foot peelers. He was one of the few guys who didn't drop a heat all week. On the scoreboard he had the number one marked up against his name in every heat.
Local Yadin Nicol had similar stats, so it all came down to who got busy in the final. Hobgood scrambled for anything he could during the 40-minute final, going inside and ripping the little lefts apart while Nicol sat for minutes with priority. Hobgood posted his two winning waves before Nicol had ridden even one.
"I could see that the sets weren't even that good and if you did wait you weren't even guaranteed to get a smoker," said Hobgood. "My plan was to get going early and keep riding waves regardless of the size and it played out. I have to admit I was stressing out there. At times I was thinking, 'please bring a set.' And then at times I was going, 'please don't bring a set.'"
The heat strategy paid off and Hobgood's laughing all the way to the bank. He had a huge grin on his face as he held the $40,000 winner's check above his head.
Nicol became the hometown favorite after Brazilian Willian Cardoso eliminated Taj Burrow in the quarterfinals. Besides surfing brilliantly all week, Burrow registered the first 10-point wave in the contest's 35-year history. Today Burrow could not buy a wave.
"It was a wave catching contest today and not a wave riding contest," said Burrow. "I thought I had a really good chance of winning here but I couldn't find any waves ... I'll just have to win at Bells!" (The Rip Curl Pro starts at Bell Beach next week.)
Julian Wilson was the other standout surfer this week, but he went down to Yadin Nicol in the quarterfinals. Wilson rode the same 6' 3" board all week in all sorts of conditions but shifted to a smaller board for today's conditions. Not only did the waves not come to him, but when they did the short board looked sluggish. He struggled to register a decent score.
"I'm just glad to have surfed a lot of heats this week, especially against guys in the Top 32," said Wilson. "Now I'm looking forward to the Rip Curl Pro and feeling a lot better about my surfing at that [World Championship] level."
For the record, Hobgood picked up 6,500 points toward the ASP World Tour while Nicol collected 5,200 points. Hobgood might have been a little flippant when talking about the points but they will definitely carry both men towards a place in the Top 32 after the mid-year cut off.