Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Surf [Print without images]

Friday, December 5, 2008
Updated: December 6, 11:52 PM ET
Bloggin' From The Rock


CJ Hobgood, off the bottom and onto the winner's podium.

Lets get one thing straight before we get into this, if you get your information solely from ASP press releases you should know that Sunset Beach was not 20 to 30 feet today. Yes, it was big, and yes, with a lot of west in the swell it was quintessential Sunset, but no, the reality of the situation was that the surf was only a healthy 10- to 12-foot.

Ok, that off my chest, much congratulations goes out to CJ Hobgood for his brilliant showing at the O'Neill World Cup of Surfing. The first goofy-footer to win at Sunset since 1997, it was with long, drawn-out bottom turns and big, dedicated carves that CJ was able to best a field of hungry up-and-comers, savvy locals, and desperate WQS hopefuls. I've always been a huge fan of the Hobgood bottom turn, and today was a perfect example of exactly how much of an asset such a fundamental maneuver can be.

Aussie Tommy Whitaker closing out on the close-out.

After winning in Mundaka at the Billabong Pro back in October, CJ's win at Sunset helps round out a very solid end-of-the-year run. "My usual experience out at Sunset is just getting worked pretty much," told the 2004 world champ after the final. "This ranks up there with my world tour wins and everything else because I never totally pictured myself winning this contest so it ranks that much higher."

Also worthy of note was the performance of Maui's Dusty Payne. While Dusty was stopped short in the semifinals, he does now lead the Triple Crown ratings and could potentially be the youngest surfer to ever win the Triple Crown—depending on how he does at the Pipe Masters of course. "Yeah, I'm just enjoying it," told Dusty between heats. "There's no pressure on me, I've just been going out and surfing."

But the day wasn't without a bit of heartbreak too. Both Pat Gudauskas and Yadin Nicol needed to advance out of their heats today to garner a slot on the 2009 Dream Tour. Both would come up a butt hair short. Both are now relegated to another year on The Grind.

(Left to right) Bruce, Kelly, Flea, and Sterling.

As if that wasn't enough, to cap off one hell of a day on the North Shore, the opening ceremony of the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational was this evening—and what a damn nice evening it was. The weather felt like a hot August night. The northwest swell bounced between Waimea proper and Pinballs. And as with every winter for almost 30 years now the world's big-wave heroes gathered to honor the memory of Eddie and kick off the waiting period.

True to form, Jamie O'Brien showed up late because he stayed out at Pipe for "just one more." And Bruce Irons, who'd paddled out at Pipe earlier in the day for "just one," arrived on time, but thoroughly bloodied from a bad bounce off the bottom. At first it looked like he'd simply had a shocker while shaving, but after removing his sunglasses it became painfully apparent it was no slip of the razor. He had Band-Aids over his right eyebrow, his chin, his arms, and probably more were all lacerated. But it's Bruce, and it didn't seem to faze him all that much. After all, if you recall when he won the Eddie in 2004 he did it with a black eye (which his brother was kind enough to inflict the night before).

Bruce and his Band-Aid

Pipe antics and brotherly love aside, some happily soaked in the majesty of the Bay. "It's just nice to be here," remarked Mark Healey, who had just returned from Maverick's.

"This is one of those special places. There's power here," added Jamie Sterling. "A couple of days ago I was in Alaska towing into this new spot, and now I'm back here at home, surrounded by all of my heroes. I feel blessed just to be part of this."

The circle of trust.