"When I was on the tour, it was the Fosters ASP World Tour and the culture was about how good you could surf after how smashed you got."
Pro surfing fans were stunned, some good, some bad, this morn when the long-retired Australian pro surfer Nathan Hedge was given a start in the Outerknown Tahiti Pro, which begins at Teahupoo on August 11.
Hedge, who is forty-three and an ambassador for the Kelly Slater-founded brand Outerknown, is a former runner up in Tahiti and it ain’t out of the realms of possibilities that he could meet, and beat, his master in the event.
His golden years were the early 2000s, big lefts, Mundaka, Teahupoo, Cloudbreak, his specialities.
It’ll be Hedge’s first appearance in a WCT contest since 2014.
It’s a wild turnaround for the lil man, who threw himself into rehab with the same gusto, after hitting the bottle a little hard on tour.
“When I was on the tour, it was the Fosters ASP World Tour, and at every town it was that town’s week to shine. If you wanted to party you could party every week, all year. You can duck and weave and fly to the next spot and leave that all behind and start afresh at a new place, but it’s a crazy existence. The culture was about how good you could surf after how smashed you got. That’s how it was, last man standing. It was fun for ten-15 years but I wasn’t surfing as much. I was always hungover, missing surfs, and it didn’t do me any favours during those close heats. In the end, that lifestyle took me away from surfing. A part of me wants to talk to kids about this, but I had to do a lot of growing up by going hard and just putting myself out there. In the end, I think they’ve got to work it out for themselves, You’ve got to let them go on trips, dig themselves out of some holes and come through the other side, but at what point do you pull them up? To make five years clean and sober, I did a full live in rehab for six months. That’s the dedication it took. When they didn’t allow me to surf, it was really to get myself right. Eventually you get day leave. But the whole process took me out for six months. That was my third attempt, and it finally brought me back to surfing. It’s like having an injury you can’t see – you need to address what’s going on, take the time to recover. Being male and Australian, people think it’s a weak mentality to ask for help, but there’s help if you want it, and it’ll only happen when you get the balls to put your hand up. I started asking questions after I saw what Tommy Carroll went through. It was obvious that something had changed in him.”
Response from fans was mixed,
“Legend, but is it 2004 again?” was typical of the responses.