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CJ Hobgood talks equipment choices and building a brand




Equipment and life coaching from CJ Hobgood

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 15 February, 2015 - We were excited to talk to CJ because, well, he’s a former world champ (2001), and he’s kind of an equipment geek. He loves to fish. We don’t care about fishing. So along with the usual Surfersvillage Interview questions, we got to pick his brain about how to hone in on the best equipment.

We were waiting for some divine insight from CJ on rocker, board construction, fin materials, etc. but were disappointed. CJ told us there is no magic bullet, and that the key to dialing in equipment is simple experimentation. Simple experimentation? We could've figured that one out.

But we did learn that in addition to being a proponent of experimentaion CJ's also started his own brand. When he didn’t have a major sponsor he started a company with his friends. He loves fins and started a fin business called the Finatic program (think Netflix for surfboard fins). It's an interesting story, even if we didn't learn anythign about inside foiled fins... 

How would you describe what you do for work to a very small, inattentive child?
People give me food, shelter and water to go play in the ocean.

When you lost your major sponsor you started a new brand Salty Crew. What’s the story behind that?
For whatever reason our industry got a little too big and with all that growth we moved further away from the beach. So we're encouraging our neighbors to get back to the beach. For example my story in surfing was not having a major sponsor, not being looked after so we started a brand with friends to look after each other. Nathan Hedge would be a good example of that. 

CJ Hobgood © WSL/Scholtz

Also Willy Morris, a professional surfer, did rep work with Quiksilver for over a decade and didn't like where the industry was going, so he worked on a fishing boat for a few years, and now he's repping for Salty Crew telling our story. 

Also doing this from a retail stand point; it’s how we do business. It's been awesome and overwhelming for me not only from a learning stand point but to see the desires of my heart play out. None of this would even be possible if it wasn't for people relating to the story, saying “hey that's my story.” 

Share with us your biggest Rocky Balboa moment (you know, punching meat in a locker then running up stairs theme music blaring!) 
That's only in the movies right?... I mean they happen in my head when I'm working out but it's not reality.

Let’s talk about equipment: All Pros are dialed into their equipment, but the average surfer doesn’t have time to obsess so much. We don’t have our careers hinging on board performance. What advice would you give to us weekend warriors to dial in a board?
I'd say experiment... I know it's a financial thing and you don't want to buy a bunch of different equipment only hitting it once a week. But that's the difference. The pros have things dialed in because they are constantly experimenting with everything, size, shape, materials, fins etc 

CJ Hobgood, Fiji ©


How about fins? What would you cite as the key ingredient to finding the right fin?
Keep experimenting. You don't know what you like if you don't know what you don't like.

What is different design-wise in a fin made for Teahupo’o and a fin designed for, say, Lowers?
It's a feeling and you might enjoy a different feeling at Lowers. But the best place to start would be what kind of surfing do you want to do and bring into your game. Then go from there or maybe it's I just want to feel confident going down the line etc. Still, it’s all trial and error. I believe people can have more enjoyment surfing because they’re learning, becoming knowledgable about what they love to do because they’re experimenting with new equipment finding out things they like and don't like. It's no different from Golf, Snowboarding etc. You gotta keep experimenting. 

You talk a lot about experimentation. What have you been experimenting with lately?
I took an all-carbon Firewire down to Panama, rode a fish at eight-foot Alligators and was riding a 6'3 in solid Pipe but it had twice my usual thickness to make up for the foam that normally would have been on a 6'10. (I’ve been riding) Quads, thrusters, epoxies, poly blanks, epoxy resin - really dude it's everything and that's what makes surfing fun. It's never one thing. Always change because that’s what makes it fresh and hopefully keeps me from being stale. But that’s life. Ya gotta evolve a lot quicker nowadays it seems.


Bryan Dickerson

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