Dion Agius remembers Damien Hobgood's surfing at a rough Indonesian reef. "He was an animal!"
Some time ago, while filming for Strange Rumblings, Dion Agius and other Globe surfers including Creed McTaggart, sought out the circles of Greenbush in Sumatra, Indonesia.
Greenbush is one of those waves where tuberiding to the death is preferable to opening the cat-flap or proning straight. For surfers such as Craig Anderson and, in our case, Damien Hobgood, it is where their courage and their skills are most visible.
I’d heard about Damien Hobgood’s solo session at 12-foot at Greenbush from Dion Agius and Creed McTaggart. As I swooped on their drinks cabinet they mimicked what they believed had transpired. Giant drops beyond the vertical axis! Circles that were so big that even if a camera had been there it wouldn’t have been able to translate its enormity to pixels.
Damien, see, was in Bali and had heard the wave was going to be good and, short of partners, flew, drove and hopped a boat until he was sitting in the channel of an Indonesia version of Teahupoo, ready to surf solo. And solo he did.
The following day, when the swell had dropped but was still a respectable, even horrifying, eight foot, Dion and Creed and the rest of the Globe gang arrived. And Damien, hardened from the previous day, owned it.
Now let’s talk with Dion!
BeachGrit: Describe to me how Damien behaved in these waves?
Dion: Damo acted like an animal out there, like a man possessed. It was the most insane performance of talent and courage I’ve ever seen. He did not give one fuck and was getting bounced of the reef and bleeding everywhere and just kept charging.
What about when he surfaced with his back covered in glitches. He laughed it off, yeah?
Yep, he had been bounced on the inside. Tore up his whole back, copped the next death set on the head on the inside section and swam down to the bottom and bear-hugged a giant coral head while an eight foot dry set bore down on his head. And he gritted his teeth and said underwater “not today.” That’s what he told us when he paddled back out bleeding. “Not today!” Jesus. I wanted to go home crying. I was so scared at that point.
Can you describe, in detail, one outrageous wave he rode?
He got one that came in looking like Black Death. The whole channel went black, it was the biggest wave of the day by far and he saw it and just started paddling for the horizon. A the very last second he swung as fast as you’ve ever seen and put his head down. I think his face may have even been in the water and he was grunting an paddling so hard paddling like 20 miles an hour. Once his board caught up with the tremendous forward thrusts his arms were producing, he took off behind the peak and lost contact for a second before regaining at the bottom and accidetanlly went into a soul arch with an eight-foot guillotine lip heading at his face. He ducked about two-inches and it slid right by his ear before he stood completely straight and proceeded to man-handle the beast all the way down the line and then got spat out right in front of my face. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen. He was giggling.
What sorts of things do you remember him saying to you?
I think he said, “that was fun.” I couldn’t speak for about 20 minutes.
What can we learn from a man like Damo?
How to be a man. And an awesome loving, caring gentle man that is also as tough, and strong and crazy as the manliest of men.
Do you wish you were more like Damo?
I wish I was Damo.