C.J. Hobgood (USA), 33, does some product testing in Fiji.
LOS ANGELES, California/USA (Monday, June 24, 2013) – Things move pretty quickly these days. Progress is all-around us from technology to social reform to business and so forth. In our own world, we’ve seen the daily performance progression of the world’s best surfers, their equipment and now the sport itself. To stay in the game, you have to be diverse, you have to adapt and you have to be open-minded.
C.J. Hobgood (USA), 33, is a man that understands the philosophy, “evolve or perish” whole-heartedly. The 2001 ASP World Champion has reinvented himself several times throughout a stellar 15-year career with his surfing progressing week-in and week-out. Hobgood’s latest project has the popular goofy-footer venturing into the world of online consumerism with Finatic – a Netflix-inspired fin testing and purchasing service. The ASP caught up with C.J. to get his read on his new venture and find out more about it. This…is his story…
So how did Finatic come about? “I was in Hawaii last year and Chris Hough emails me and asks me to check out his project. It sounded interesting, but we all get a lot of emails like this and you always ask yourself, ‘how is a surfer of my caliber or someone doing the tour going to benefit from a project like this?’ It sounded interesting though so I signed up for it,and this sounds kind of cheesy, but to get a new set of fins in the mail as fresh as can be was genuinely exciting and it was something that I thought could stoke a lot of people out. I wanted to try it from a consumer standpoint. I ordered a set of fins for Puerto Rico and then mailed them back and exchanged them for another set for Australia and it was so easy that I really thought it was a fun idea and a good service. I thought that if I could find a need for it then the guys or girls that do a few trips a year could definitely find a need for it. So I was excited and I contacted Chris and we sat down and talked about a partnership and getting a few more surfers on the program. Chris has been doing it for five years, but it’s starting to pick up a lot of traction now. End of the day, I’m just sold on it – it’s a great idea.”
How does Finatic factor into the experimentation aspect of being a surfer? “Now, more so than ever, experimentation is constantly happening on tour. I think we’ve seen Kelly (Slater) really lead that charge with different surfboard shapes and fin configurations and now everyone is ordering boards with multiple fin set-ups – variety is key and you need to have options. That, combined with the ever-increasing advancements in the fin technology itself, has created a really fertile ground for experimentation. Just this year alone, I’ve had heats where I’ve ridden three fins, four fins and five fins. Kelly and I were having a discussion in Fiji about four fins versus five fins and which work better on our forehands and backhands and we had similar experiences despite being very different surfers. Those kinds of discussions get me excited because it means we’re getting close to a “working theory” on the progression surfing. Having a system where we can affordably test out hundreds of fin sets makes this whole process work much better.”
So will history cite Amazon, Netflix and Finatic as the game-changing idesa of our generation? “I’ve endorsed a lot of products before and they’ve all been great. This is kind of different though. This is a service and one that I think is going to improve surfing for a lot of people. I think the timing of it now is much better too because there’s so much technology in fins and options and I think people are going to be a lot more excited about it. If you’re going on a trip and want to test a fin, go online, order it, have it arrive at your house and enjoy it on the trip. You love it? Buy it. You don’t? Exchange it for another set. Easy.”