CJ Hobgood: life in aerial mode

CJ Hobgood was the man of the match in the second day of competition at the Billabong Rio Pro, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The North American surfer scored the highest heat-total of the entire event, 16.50 out of 20, in the clean two-to-four foot (1 metre) lefthanders of the Arpoador surf spot.

"That’s what makes those heats fun to surf and it’s exciting to watch," Hobgood said. "I have so much respect for Julian (Wilson) because these kids can come back so easily no matter what scores they need. I had a good start and had to be comfortable with my performance win or lose. It was exciting and I’m stoked to make it, I have so much fun surfing against these guys."

Joel Parkinson, another big hitter, was right when he adopted the strategy of waiting for the outside set waves and matched the day’s highest single-wave score of a 9 out of 10 for powerful backhand surfing to eventually eliminate fellow countryman Kai Otton.

"A strategy is a strategy and I had seen a few waves out there," Parkinson said. "Yesterday the tide came in and just kind of killed me. The wave is pretty tricky here and it’s kind of a dog fight to try and get a wave."

The Billabong Rio Pro plays a vital role in deciding the 2011 ASP world champion. Local surfer Adriano de Souza went on an absolute rampage on his backhand in Round 2 to defeat wildcard Ricardo Santos with one of the highest heat total of the event, 16.43 out of 20.

"It’s a good rebound after yesterday’s loss and I’m really stoked with my performance out there," De Souza said. "I just tried to capitalize on Ricardo’s mistake in that heat and was really lucky to find two good waves out there. I’m happy to see all of my friends on the beach, that’s what’s most important for me."

The Australian rider Adam Melling eliminated Alejo Muniz, from Brazil, while matching the highest single-wave score of the event of a 9 and expressed the importance of each heat win with the midyear cut rapidly approaching.

"The cut is lingering all year, so it always feels good to get heat wins" Melling said. "We’ve got the two cuts in one year and it’s on everyone’s mind. It can throw you off or you can also use it to fire you up a bit."

Michel Bourez and Jordy Smith had problems to beat their opponents but will be playing Round 3 with the return to Barra da Tijuca.

Upcoming Billabong Rio Pro Round 3 Match Ups:
Heat 1: Taj Burrow (AUS) vs. Cory Lopez (USA)
Heat 2: Damien Hobgood (USA) vs. Heitor Alves (BRA)
Heat 3: Adrian Buchan (AUS) vs. Dan Ross (AUS)
Heat 4: Jeremy Flores (FRA) vs. Adam Melling (AUS)
Heat 5: Joel Parkinson (AUS) vs. Kieren Perrow (AUS)
Heat 6: Kelly Slater (USA) vs. Bobby Martinez (USA)
Heat 7: Jordy Smith (ZAF) vs. Josh Kerr (AUS)
Heat 8: Adriano de Souza (BRA) vs. C.J. Hobgood (USA)
Heat 9: Bede Durbidge (AUS) vs. Patrick Gudauskas (USA)
Heat 10: Owen Wright (AUS) vs. Taylor Knox (USA)
Heat 11: Michel Bourez (PYF) vs. Jadson Andre (BRA)
Heat 12: Mick Fanning (AUS) vs. Raoni Monteiro (BRA)