What: Beachley Classic, ASP World Tour Women's Event #5 Where: Manly, New South Wales Australia When: 9-14 October 2008
Chelsea Hedges to Return to Competitive Surfing at Oakley Trials
2005 ASP World Surfing Champion Chelsea Hedges (AUS) is in top form for her competitive return at the upcoming Oakley Trials at Manly Beach.
Just four months after giving birth to her first child, daughter Mieka, the stylish goofy footer will battle future stars for the wildcard into the 2008 Beachley Classic, an ASP Women’s World Tour event, to be staged at Manly Beach from October 9th to 14th.
Spurring Hedges on is the prospect of going head-to-head with current world No.1 and two-time event champion Stephanie Gilmore (AUS) in round one of the world's richest women’s surfing tournament. “The wildcard drawing Steph is incentive alone just to make it through the trials," said Hedges on the possibility of competing against her old rival and good mate Gilmore.
“That would put me straight back into full-on competition, at the top level and that’s exciting." The 25-year-old, who gave birth in early June, has settled easily into motherhood and is hitting the waves for short but serious sessions whenever possible thanks to the support of board-shaper husband Jason.
Hedges, who finished seventh in the 2007 world ratings after winning the opening event on the Gold Coast, could return directly to the tour next year if she applies for and is granted a wildcard. Renowned for taking women’s surfing deeper, faster and more vertical than most, Hedges is not underestimating the talent of her younger opponents in the eight girl invitational trials.
“I have never been in a trials before, so the thought of going up against surfers like Laura Enever is nerve wracking. The young girls are that good now," said Hedges. “I hadn’t really thought about competing this year but the chance came up and now I’m frothing to just be back in the water with the girls."
Reigning ASP Women’s World Champion Gilmore knows Hedges is capable of an upset and with the high stakes on offer that there will be no margin for error. The Beachley Classic carries an additional twenty per cent rating points towards crowning the 2008 ASP World Champion and offers a whopping $100,000 in prize money.
“Wildcards at any event are always dangerous but Chels is especially dangerous," said Gilmore. “She is one of my favourite female surfers. So I know that heading into this event, it will be on mind that I have to come up against the wildcard. But hopefully I will be just as dangerous as they are on the day," added Gilmore.
ISA world junior champion Laura Enever (AUS) is included in the stacked line-up vying for the coveted Oakley wildcard and a shot at the world’s top 17 surfers. “The Oakley Trials always has an amazing line-up, so to have Chelsea in them this year will be crazy," said Enever. “It’s actually a privilege to be able to compete against her."
Tyler Wright (AUS), Arini Mason (NZ), Kirby Wright (AUS) Ellie-Jean Coffey (AUS), Charlotte Hand (AUS) and Tiana McNeven (AUS) will also contest the trials.
The Oakley Trials will be staged at the main contest site at Manly Beach, Sydney on day one of the official waiting period for the Beachley Classic, Thursday October 9th. The Beachley Classic – an ASP Women’s World Tour event - is staged in conjunction with Events New South Wales, Arrive Alive and Beachley and with the support of Oakley and the Manly Council.