Jeff Hubbard

The odds of becoming a world champion athlete are extraordinary to begin with.

The odds of two brothers simultaneously holding world titles in separate divisions of the same sport are virtually incalculable.

Yet on Kaua‘i, one family has produced such a result.

Jeff and Dave Hubbard can each introduce themselves as 2009 International Bodyboarding Association world champions. Jeff claimed the Men’s Open season championship, while Dave grabbed the Drop Knee title.

The amazing result should not exactly come as a shock. It was Jeff’s second time winning the year-end honor (2006), while Dave is now a four-time world champ (2005, 2007, 2008).

Dave got the accolades going back in October at the Island of Margarita, Portugal, where he completed the Drop Knee season sweep, finishing first in the Bodyboard Pro Festival. It was his third first-place finish in all three Drop Knee events of the season, leaving no doubt as to who would take home the ‘09 title.

That now makes four straight championships for Dave (there was no Drop Knee competition in 2006).

“I’m really happy to win all the three events that the DK division had,” Dave told the IBA after winning his title. “This was a very favorable year for the DK and I think that the division is gaining strength once more.”

Dave also finished 14th overall in the Men’s Open division this season.

Adding to the household hardware was not as cut and dry for Jeff, who went into the season’s final event as the favorite and with hopes of being crowned champ, but still a tough road lying ahead.

The IBA season champ is crowned based on a points system that takes a rider’s best three scores of the four “Grand Slam” events, while also factoring in two International scores.

Jeff, 34, was in good shape after a first place at the Peruvian Inka Challenge in July and a second at the Sopelana BBK Pro for his two International event scores.

His season-opening result at Pipeline — which he still says is his favorite wave to free surf and compete on — was not one of the three Grand Slam scores he would ultimately use, but he took home first place at the Sintra Portugal Pro and was third at the Chilean Arica Pro, both in August.

Those high marks gave him a strong lead, leaving some wiggle room heading into the season finale at Confital in the Spanish Canary Islands.

It turned out he needed that cushion, when he was matched up with Ben Player in Round 9. In a very closely-contested duel that featured high scores from each, Player came away with the better numbers and the win to move into the quarterfinals.

Though it would take a strong effort from one of those still in contention, an athlete doesn’t like having his or her fate determined while standing on the sideline.

After four of the five season title contenders were knocked out, fellow Hawaiian rider Mike Stewart remained and would grab his unprecedented 10th world title with a win over Hugo Pinheiro.

With smaller conditions than prior rounds, the riders went back and forth before Pinheiro took priority and grabbed the lead for good in the closing minutes.

The result sealed the deal for Jeff, who was immediately raised into the air on the beach and draped in a Hawaiian flag.

Stewart showed his class and camaraderie by picking Jeff up after coming in from his heat.

Professional success has not clouded the importance of the other aspects of Jeff’s life. He remains humbled by the opportunity his sport has provided, as well as the added benefit of having his brother by his side for at least some of the process.

“I am extremely blessed to bodyboard for a living,” he said in an email. “It is a passion for me and to be paid to travel the world promoting my sponsors is a dream. Having my brother, David, sharing in these amazing experiences with me is really special and has generated some classic memories.”

The Hubbards made two major events family affairs during the summer, with each taking first place in their divisions. First, they swept the USBA Sandy Beach Pro in July, then the Sintra Portugal Pro in August.

Now that both brothers have captured multiple world championships, creating new goals each season may seem difficult having already achieved so much.

“I have a list of goals that I strive for each year,” Jeff said. “Some vary year to year and some remain stagnant. Winning certain contests and tour titles are part of the list, as is being a good husband and trying to be a giving person.”

Family seems to be a common theme in Jeff’s character, as he stated that the support he receives is invaluable to him.

“I’m very lucky to have such amazing support from my wife, Heather, and my family here on Kaua‘i,” he said. “They keep me grounded and always lift me up and make me smile and stay positive. I would not be anywhere without them.”

Dave and Jeff will be back to defend their titles when the 2010 season kicks off. The opening event will return to Pipeline, starting Feb. 16.


SOURCE: IBA World Tour