After falling off the World Tour, team rider Damien Hobgood looks forward to the future. Surfer Magazine gets the scoop on what Damo has been up to since the tour started and what the future holds.
One perk of life after the Tour: Regular day missions to Blacks Beach. Photo: Ellis//Surfer MagazineFor the first time in 13 years, Damien Hobgood found himself at home for the start of the World Tour season. Snapper Rocks was more than 7,000 miles away and he was staring down a major crossroad in his life. While other surfers might have sulked, Damien chose to find the silver lining in the situation and, from all accounts, is as happy as ever. Below, Damien discusses his new life away from the World Tour, his plans on returning, and his newfound love of big-wave surfing. How has your life changed since leaving the World Tour? I have a little more time on my hands now and I feel like I’m able to use it a lot more wisely. I was kind of tripping out on how productive you can be during the span of a World Tour event. You can get a whole lot done! During the Snapper comp, I was able to go on two separate surf trips and to Dubai. I’m not saying that as if it’s a bad or a good thing, just an observation on my part. I’ve been doing the Tour for so long, I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have a little more flexibility in my schedule. So it’s nice to be able to branch out. I’ve been trying to get a little more into big-wave surfing and I was able to paddle Jaws late last winter, which was an amazing experience. I’m really looking forward to surfing a lot more big waves. Surfing big waves makes me feel like a kid again. Was it weird to see the season start at Snapper and not be there? You’d been on Tour for more than a decade, so that must have felt a little strange. I wouldn’t say it was strange, but it was different. There were some emotions and feelings that I’m so used to having at the start of the season that weren’t there. As you lead up to the event, you get a lot of anticipation and to not feel that was a little weird. I don’t think most people realize just how consuming the World Tour can be. It takes over your life. Whether it’s training, traveling, or competing, it really consumes you. So to not have that responsibility to be at—and prepare for—every event is really different. Are you following the events closely? Normally, I love following the Tour and watching the webcast, but so far this season, I’ve only watched a few heats. It’s not that I haven’t been wanting to, it’s just that with the time difference and having kids, I just haven’t had the time. But I have been watching the highlight reels. What’s your impression on all of the changes to the Tour this year? I think it’s really good. I think ZoSea has done a really good job of adding a lot of professionalism to the Tour. There are a few kinks here and there, and that’s going to happen anytime you have a transition, but for the most part I think that it’s really good. I think it’s just gonna get better as time goes on. As someone that was on the Tour for a while, that’s a good feeling for me to see progress. Interview by Surfer Magazine