What baggage do you bring, what preconceived notions do you harbour when it comes to the question of the Hobgood twins?
To be honest my knowledge was shamefully scant, before I sat down and watched their doco: And Two If By Sea.
A variation of the question, what is a Hobgood, answered by friends, family and fellow travellers on the pro tour, anchors the opening and closing scenes of the film.
One proffered answer, “A southern fried chicken surfing hillbilly” put me on side straight away.
I’m a version of that human animal myself, minus the Jesus infatuation.
As far as paying attention while their storied careers played out, the Hobgoods were mostly a background hum for me, surfers I was vaguely aware of, who came into focus during Tahiti or Fijian interludes.
In the pantheon of smooth American goofyfoots, in the generation before I was a Machado man, at least until The Drifter was released. During the time of the Hobgoods’ Pro Tour reign that coincided with watchable webcasts (say post 2005) the harder edge of Martinez was more my bag.
As they’ve aged the twins have become more physically distinct.
Damo, more solid, square jawed and handsome.
CJ, a little rattier, more Florida dirtbag, if I could use that term in it’s most affectionate way.
Early family footage of Dad Clifton, with the moustache and the mullet, a boss hog of the south is eerily similar to current day CJ.
The doco, follows a traditional biographical precis, the early family life is detailed, as a by-product shedding more light on how small Floridian surf can incubate and birth such a prodigious output of world-class surfing talent.
That combination of small, coastal towns, warm water, copious surf time and ultra-competitive sibling or small town relationships is now mirrored in current times in the Brazilian explosion.
The story of brothers has been compelling since Cain and Abel. Surfing brothers are no exception.
In the case of Bruce and Andy, it was a tale of competitiveness and risk taking that bordered on a death wish, with a tragic ending. CJ and Damo’s arc is less Greek tragedy and more classic hero’s journey.
They both make the Tour, enjoy life as globe-trotting studs, at one point being the highest-paid sibling combination on Tour.
An “accidental” World Title falls into CJ’s lap as a result of September 11, 2001. His humility in struggling to accept the legitimacy of the Title is refreshing. The regret overlaid onto the achievement by Damo makes it more poignant. Damo was surfing Pipe when the Title was awarded at Sunset.
He missed his brother’s signature achievement. Those misses cut deep.
The guts of the film deals with Teahupoo, and the fall-out on family life from pursuing passion and points in this extreme arena amidst the intense sibling rivalry.
In that sense the doco takes on an almost war-time feel.
You could slot the famous opening dialogue in the Saigon Hotel Room from Apocalypse Now in there. You know the one, where Martin Sheen can’t cope with the return to normal life after the intensity of Vietnam, gets divorced and heads back into the chaos of war: “When I was here I wanted to be there, when I was there all I could think of was getting back in the jungle.”
The best scenes of the film are found here.
CJ’s mind-blowing west bomb with Damo just inside. Damo’s dislocated shoulder on the opening wave of his Final with Kelly Slater in 2005. That’s the Final where Kelly bagged two tens, including the opened beer can inside the tube.
A move that Damo, who was absent from the Final on his way to hospital, described as “disrespectful.”
The agony and the ecstacy is real, as is the terror, and the consequences.
The modern American cult of optimism posits fear as nothing but a troublesome psychological construct.
The Teahupoo wipeout scenes are a stunning rebuke of that concept.
“What’s on the other side of fear? Nothing,” is the mantra put forth by Hollywood celebrities like Will Smith.
What’s on the other side of fear at Teahupoo is illustrated by Damo Hobgood in one of the most powerful passages in the film, when he talks us through an almost fatal wipe-out, describing putting his fingers into holes in his head after collision with the reef and a cool, divine breeze flowing through a deeply altered state of consciousness as his life swung in the balance. The post-traumatic impact is hinted at when Damo phones his Mum Maureen in a scene of deep emotional reckoning.
The film is worth watching for this scene alone.
CJ cops his own emotional reckoning in Tahiti.
The glamour and the temptations of tour life meant he couldn’t keep it in his pants and the weight of the infidelity caused a breakdown in the crucible of Teahupoo.
“The wages of sin is death,” is the mental self-talk that he mercilessly flagellates himself with. The resulting divorce once his babe finds out the news and the disintegration of his family unit is the first time the fallout of the pro surfing life is directly dealt with.
This journey into character and emotional transparency does mark a shift in surf film-making.
I like this new wave of revealing, authentic type of film, much, much more.
The Hobgoods lose their sponsorship and in a long tail-end to their careers, Damo falls off Tour and CJ spends five long years struggling with no major sponsor. CJ gets his happy ending retirement lap after an injury wildcard while Damo struggles on with a sense of unrealised ambition, which challenges his own family stability.
A thousand tragic endings could be had from material like this.
But the ship rights itself and somehow the brothers find peace, at opposite sides of the country.
If you were religious, it’s an argument for the unexpected arrival of grace.
How much of the Hobgoods is a good thing?
I think, more than we have gotten.
I finished the film wanting more southern fried chicken surfing hillbilly in my life.
The denouement of the film takes pace with the brothers surfing Grajagan, playing out, with good grace now, the intense sibling rivalries that had determined their destinies.
I realised what beautiful surfers they were and that I wanted to see more of them.
The Tour doesn’t always bring out the best. Especially on the back end of a career.
I hope ELO has watched, there are many lessons within.
(Watch And Two If By Sea on iTunes, Amazon Prime etc.)
Watch: Brave Florida fishermen hook, beach, “menacing” six-foot bull shark intent on devouring recently freed “Coronavirus Prisoners!”
And finally, finally, after many months of being forced to shelter-in-place due a Chinese-concocted bat-based pandemic, governors and mayors across these great United States are loosening restrictions, and releasing Coronavirus prisoners.
Free at last, free at last.
Floridians, of course, are making their way back to the beaches, paler and fatter, but also happy to feel that sun, taste the brine of that salt water.
Don’t be fooled for one second, though, in thinking “man-eating” sharks are not enterprising, savvy, intelligent beasts.
A species is not designated “apex predator” by being second best.
So let us travel to Navarre Beach, near Pensacola, across the sound from Walmart, for that is where a much-too-large bull shark decided to lay siege and feast upon unprepared, less-than-fit, ecstatic-just-to-be-outdoors revelers but we must go to Fox News for the entire fair and balanced story.
A group of three anglers managed to catch a bull shark while fishing off Navarre Beach on Sunday — the first weekend the beaches were opened since being closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The giant shark was towed to the shore, where the men posed with it for videos and photos.
According to Shelley Goudy of Fort Walton, who took the video of the proud fishermen, the group caught the shark by “kayaking their line out around 200 yards,” she told WKRG.
Goudy estimated the bull shark to be around six feet long.
Though the men were excited and asked to pose with the shark, they followed protocols and cut the shark loose. Bull sharks measuring over 54 inches are not considered harvestable under Florida Fish and Wildlife laws.
Wait? The bull shark was cut loose?
Still out there planning revenge?
But how many Floridians could a six-foot bull shark fit in its mouth at one time?
One and a half if two had been to the local Krystals beforehand?
Much to ponder.
Rebellion: Surf hero and architect of original “Dream Tour” Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew floats idea of Pacific Rim World Tour!
Nostalgia is a disease, on that we can agree, but we can also agree that the greatest time in the history of professional surfing was from 1999 – 2011 or thereabouts. For it was then that Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew floated the Dream Tour, placing the world’s best surfers on the world’s best waves and… oh I don’t need to remind you of the glorious. The singular glories.
Brodie Carr deftly snagged the reigns and guided the Association of Surfing Professionals and it seemed as though it would never end.
A golden era.
Well, co-Waterperson of the Year Dirk Ziff purchased the whole thing for free in 2012, began construction of the Wall of Positive Noise and here we are today.
A bloated, busted “media organization” that has little chance of reviving this year and storm clouds already hovering over next.
Could Rabbit get the gang (Brodie) back together and re-wrest control of the Pastime of Kings away from ELo and co.?
Since the World Surf League tour both WCT (World Championship Tour) and WQS (World Qualifying Series) has been on hold after Sydney Pro the last event held in March 14th, there has been mounting speculation as to what happens next.
Logan said as if it was a lay day contest call, “Everything is on hold until another announcement on June 1st.”
This leaves JBay (July), Teahupoo (August), Kelly’s Wave Ranch (September), France and Portugal in October, and Hawaii. (December. Outside oh Hawaii, it would seem unlikely that these events will happen considering the travelling issue and without a vaccine for COVID.
The problem for surfing unlike other sports such as NRL is that it is World Professional Surfing is a Global World Tour.
If restrictions are suitably lifted for travelling and the threat of the virus is contained, it could be possible for the World Tour to resume by September.
One scenario proposed by former President/CEO of ASP (former Administration of World Surf League) Wayne “Rabbit” Bartholomew is to create a Pacific rim tour including WAs Margaret River & Victoria’s Bells Beach.
Throw in Tavarua Fiji, Teahupoo Tahiti and then finish in Hawaii at Pipe.
“It’s a restricted World Tour of types but held in quality wave locations and a way to crown the World Champions for 2020,” said Bartholomew the architect of the ASP World Dream Tour who introduced events in exotic locations renown for excellent waves.
Of course Rabbit is offering his expertise, free of charge, to the World Surf League BUT the fact that he is even thinking about alternative scenarios makes my heart sing.
Are you reading?
Surfing now turns its lonely eyes to you.
Weaponised ass-play: Lennox Head local smears out-of-towner’s car with human turd; Leo Fioravanti reportedly fined for surfing out of postcode!
Now, it can be revealed, that police are investigating the smearing of human shit onto the door of a vehicle with Queensland license plates, telling one local shop owner they knew who committed the offence and were searching for witnesses.
(Interestingly, one prime suspect may be off the hook because he’s too short to get his asshole over the door handle.)
Good luck to the brave police-people investigating.
“Maybe don’t park with Queensland or Byron rego,” said one local. “They closed the top carpark at the lookout because of COVID so it’s deep congestion at the bottom carpark and a shit-fight along the side of the road.”
Further, there are reports that Italian superpower Leo Fioravanti was one of twenty-seven surfers hit with thousand-dollar fines for driving from the Gold Coast and surrounds surf Lennox area.