Nathan Hedge (AUS) at the Billabong Pro J-Bay last year where he was one of the standout surfers, even posting a perfect 10-point-ride.
Current No. 51 on the ASP World Rankings Nathan Hedge (AUS) is only 18 spots away from re-claiming his spot on the elite ASP World Championship Tour. It’s early in the year, with plenty of ASP Star and Prime events left to run before those spots will be secured, but former ASP top 10 ranked surfer Hedge is in career best fitness and hungrier than ever to show the world what he’s got.
ASP Australasia caught up with the Sunshine Coast born, North Narrabeen raised and current Gold Coast resident to see what’s going on in the world of Nathan Hedge.
Tell us about getting back into competitive surfing
I had those couple years break and then I got to the point where I was ready to get back into it. Last year was just about about getting myself seeded back into the Primes for this year and I had a good year. This year we have already had two out of the eight Prime events for the year, Margaret River was good, but brazil I got knocked out in the first round. I gained a lot out of Brazil though, sometimes a tough loss can help you learn and I’m feeling really good and looking forward to the next event. The Prime and Star events are more of a marathon, it only matters where you are ranked after Sunset.
How do you feel you match-up against the kids?
Thinking of Brazil the guys doing the power turns were the ones getting through the heats, the judging of the speed, power and flow has really helped me. I love reading the whole wave and riding from the start to the end. Don’t get me wrong, I also love the big airs and stuff and it’s all a part of surfing. It’s been really encouraging for me to get back into it, seeing guys like Micro (Glen Hall) and Mitch Coleborn doing well in comps with full on rail turns. That really excited me and I think the judging is swinging back into favour of the guys with the power. I used to just stick with what I was good at, but I’m trying more airs now too, I’m a lot faster now than I used to be.
Speaking of speed, you look fitter than ever too.
I’ve got a good program, I remember when Occy had a comeback he did a lot of training on his own and that’s kinda how I am doing it. I’m doing resistance work with trx bands and a lot of stuff on the Swiss ball, but not hammering too much training, just surf specific stuff like running on soft sand and laps in the pool. It’s been a mental shift, I used to hate training, but now I’m enjoying it and finding a healthy balance. I’m an active person so sometimes I need to settle down and do less because I’d burn myself out, yoga has come into it too, it helps with that.
What did you miss most about competition while you were away?
I missed hanging out with the boys on tour. I missed the early morning paddle out with the lads, when a new swell was coming and the excitement of paddling out on dark. The late arvo sunset surfing in Fiji and all the fishing. I miss the competitive side too, when your back’s to the wall and you’re fired up needing a score. I’m a competitor and I love that stuff.
You’re a passionate supporter of Cystic Fibrosis charities, tell us about that.
Saltwater has a great benefit for patients of Cystic Fibrosis (CF). I saw the benefit that us as surfers have from being out there in the ocean in the saltwater, getting exercise, getting the endorphins. When you duck-dive blow out all the mucus, and feel refreshed, that’s kind of what CF is, it’s a build up of mucus in the lungs so the salt, fresh air and exercise is really beneficial for them. It’s easy for us to get out there and help these people get healthy as well as help them enjoy the ocean. It’s rare that medical professionals recommend using natural therapies, but more and more CF patients are moving to the coast to get in the ocean and breath the salt air. I’ve seen it first hand with them all reserved at the start of the surf, then an hour later they are so alive and happy. I got introduced to this by the guys at the Mauli Ola (http://www.mauliola.org/) Foundation in Hawaii, it’s a massive credit to them and all the work that they do. I’m actually doing a lot of work behind the scenes on raising money and bringing a lot of that awareness to Australia, tell people to get in touch with me if they want to get involved. (http://www.thewholehog.com.au/)
What are your plans for the rest of 2013?
I want to get to all of the Prime events if I can. I’m just working on being the best possible version of Nathan that I can be, and working on giving back along the way, giving to those who are less fortunate than myself. I think that’s important.
Do you still follow the ASP WCT closely?
Yeah absolutely there were a couple years where I wasn’t interested, but I’m right back into it and I watch it all the time.
Who’s going to win the Volcom Fiji Pro?
Mitch Coleborn is on a tear, I hope he takes it out.