Updated: June 21, 2010, 10:35 AM ET

CJ Hobgood starts 2010 with a win

World Tour starts in three weeks, and Floridian has momentum.

By Matt Pruett
ESPN Action Sports
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JoliThis will be Hobgood's twelfth year on the World Tour, and he's surfing stronger than ever.

On Saturday, February 6, current world number seven, CJ Hobgood won the 2010 season's first WQS 6-Star Prime event: the Hang Loose Pro at Fernando de Noronha in Brazil. Running at the same time, the Volcom Pipeline Pro naturally sucked up most of the surfing world's attention, so the Hang Loose did just that -- hung loose amidst a forgettable spectacle compared to Big Braddah Banzai.

Finding cleaner barrels than opponent Raoni Monteiro in chest-high lefthanders, Hobgood's 14.33 combined score put 20,000 dollars in his bank account, earned him 6500 points to take the lead in the WQS rankings, and gave him a potential keeper score in the ASP's new One Ranking System. "I'm stoked," Hobgood said after the win. "Last year I put too much pressure on myself and it didn't pay off. It's amazing to win right now in the beginning of the season"

That's what he told the ASP's official press release, anyway. Here's what he told ESPN about the quietest professional surfing event of 2010, and the coming World Tour.

Congrats on Brazil.
Thanks man, I appreciate it. This contest was just this little thing on the side, trying to get the motor running for the tour this year. It's time to get out of vacation mode and start cooking on the fire.

Mez/ESMKeeping up with those damn kids.

You shined Pipe for Fernando de Noronha, giving fellow East Coasters Brett Barley and Nils Schweizer some breathing room to get through heats. You must really like Brazil, huh?
Oh man, it is so much fun down there, I was blown away. If you ever get a chance, go hit up Fernando de Noronha. It's like a blue-water Hatteras or France or something. There were full barrels coming through where we were, and all the boys who were down here with me at this 'QS were living vicariously through what Brett was doing at Pipe at the same time. After every good barrel we got, one of us would be like, "Dude, I just got so Brett Barley'd on that wave!"

On paper, you seemed to walk all over a slew of feisty Brazilian competitors -- Gustavo Fernandes, Alejo Muniz, Raoni Monteiro -- but you admitted to being pushed to your limits.
No doubt, the Brazilian kids are so good nowadays. What I've been trying to focus on lately is making all my fundamentals better but knowing when to do the tricks, as well, to keep up with all the kids. When the waves are small like they were for this 'QS, they just look so solid with all their tricks.

Kelly Cestari/ASPHiding from the rest of the Tour at Pipeline, just like he did in Brazil.

The best kids like Jadson Andre, Alejo Muniz, and Gabriel Medina are kind of doing it differently. They learn the tricks first, because that's what they find easy, so that's what they thrive on. Then later, for them to seek the next level and put any kind of dent on this sport, they'll have to learn technique and power. And I'm sure they will.

You were pretty hard on yourself for failing to win an event on the '09 Tour, but most of the experts agree your surfing has never been sicker.
Thanks. I really appreciate that. Putting all this extra work in, it's fun when you start to get a little better and people really notice. Now I'm going to spend the next couple weeks getting my boards and my game together. Then I'll go back out there, and give it my best once again.

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