The second installment of our interview with World Tour veterans and dedicated mentors CJ and Damien Hobgood, who shared their insight by answering 20 of our toughest questions for the January 2014 issue of ESM. Be sure to scope out the new issue in its entirety...
6) What are the most common misconceptions about life on tour?
Damien: Probably that it’s super easy and that you can make a lot of money. We always say that we’re really getting paid in lifestyle. We go surfing, and we love the lifestyle, and that’s better than any monetary reward you could get. If you don’t feel that, then being on tour is going to beat you up, and it’s going to be hard. You’re going through airports and dealing with language barriers and being away from your family, and stuff like that can easily get to you.
CJ: Anything you do for an extended period of time does become a job. The hardest part for me is that I can’t really vent or talk to people about how, “yeah, it is tough,” or “the waves weren’t that great.” My brother would be the only person who I can actually kind of vent to, because you can’t expect to be able to sit there and complain to most people about this stuff. It would just be stupid for me to do that, because other people are thinking, “I would love to be in Hawaii right now.” But I think the thing is, we’re still in the world. We’re still human.
7) How can up-and-comers know if the tour life is really a good fit for them?
CJ: It’s just all part of growing and getting older. You start figuring out what makes you happy, and you realize that some things you thought were going to make you happy don’t. But you kind of don’t know until you give it a go. There are guys who do this tour that are amazing surfers, but after a few years on tour, they just realize, “You know what? I’m not ready to make these sacrifices. I don’t want to be away from my family to do this.” But I don’t think you really know until you dive into the deep end.
Damien: It goes back to a love for surfing and the adventure. It’s totally an adventure for me. I’m always so stoked when I get to go to a new place, so if you travel and you like that, and you enjoy competing and the camaraderie with other competitors and friends, then to me that would be kind of a tell-tale sign. If that’s all you’re ever thinking about, then you should probably give it a go.
8) What are the most important things people can do during their amateur or ‘QS years to set themselves up for success?
CJ: It’s really so specific to each person. But, as a whole, it’s kind of cliché, but I’d definitely say to have fun. Also, when you’re a kid, you always want to rush into everything, no matter what it is. You don’t have much patience. So I’d say to just have fun and be patient. The tour isn’t going anywhere. There’s always going to be another contest. If you’re good and you’re doing things the right way, you will rise to the top. It might not be as quick as you want, but it will happen.
Damien: I would really just try to experience all that you can. All different kinds of waves, all different types of boards. Really just be prepared for anything, because that’s a lot of what the tour is: learning how to handle all the curve balls and being able to enjoy it. That’s always been a huge help for CJ and I.
9) How would your life be different if you hadn’t made the tour when you did?
Damien: I definitely would have kept trying. I probably wouldn’t have given up very easily. But I don’t know. I’d certainly be doing something with surfing.
CJ: I probably would have had to get over some things in my life. It probably wouldn’t have lasted too long, but I would have had to spend some time dealing with the idea of not being good enough. It’s kind of cool to be in a spot now where I can say, “You know what, I’ve achieved way more than I ever dreamed,” and I can really feel ready when the next chapter comes. There’s a little more peace there. But if I hadn’t made it, I would have had to overcome the fact that I wasn’t cut out for what I wanted to do and what my dreams were.
10) What does being on tour teach you?
CJ: I think the biggest thing you learn on tour is to cruise. There are so many things that happen each day that are outside your control that you really learn to just let it go. Like when I go to the airport, check my bags through, and jump on an airplane, then my bags don’t show up, or when I go surf a heat in a contest and no waves come in. You just learn to accept the things that you can’t control, and on the flip side, you really try to take care of and prepare for the things you can control. So that’s definitely taught me a lot. And then also building relationships all around the world. I enjoy them, I cherish them, and I definitely try to invest in them. So probably those two things.
Damien: I’ve learned so much from being on tour. For one, it’s all the different cultures you get to see and experience. I try to take different things from different cultures and say to myself, “Wow, I can totally use that in my life.” So that’s been a huge blessing. And then also just adapting to different circumstances on the road. You can’t be that routine guy who has to do this, this, and this in the morning to operate. You always need to be flexible. And with competing, you’re learning to give it your all, but when it’s done, it’s done, and you’re learning how to enjoy other people’s success.