Sunday March 21, Surfers' Point Margaret River, Western Australia: Chelsea Hedges (AUS/Gold Coast) won the Association of Surfing Professionals 6-Star Prime Rated Drug Aware Pro at Margaret River defeating Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS/NSW) in a nail-biting finish.
In what is believed to be a first for surfing, the final result went down to the last wave which both surfers surfed in the final 30 seconds!
A recent rule change allows 2 surfers to surf the same wave providing they split the direction. When Fitzgibbons (who held priority) elected to go left, Hedges quickly decided to go right and both girls scored well on their respective backhands on the same wave.
Fitzgibbons took the wave requiring a 7 point ride to win the event, and she scored a 7.4 to go to the lead, however, Hedges improved her score with a 6.4 ride to regain the lead and take the win.
"That was an unbelievable finish," said a delighted Hedges after the win.
"It's a recent rule change that we can split the peak and I was fortunately discussing it with fellow competitor Paige Hareb (NZ) this morning and we were saying how we thought it could work at a break like this and amazingly it has won the event for me!"
"I knew when Sally started paddling for the wave she'd get the score to beat me and my mind raced on the idea to go right and better my own low scoring ride of a 5.5 and I did that with a 6.43 to win."
Today's result for Hedges continues the great start to the season for the 2005 ASP World Champion who placed 3rd in the opening event of this season and the 26 year-old who had a year off competing in 2008 to have a child is feeling great about her form.
"I came back last year after having a baby and was tentative and unsure how I'd cope with the new young emerging surfers like Sally and my 2009 season was just a fair one."
"This year I've stepped up my training and preparation and my boards are great and winning here has me in a perfect place as I head to Bells Beach for my next event – I can't wait!"
Fitzgibbons was disappointed to place 2nd but knew when she saw that Hedges had taken that last same wave that she'd probably lost the final.
"I finished the ride and felt great as I knew that I'd achieved the score to go to first but then I glanced across the peak and realised Chelsea caught the same wave and inside me I sought of knew she'd probably won as she only had to improve on a low score so it was disappointing for me but full credit to Chelsea, she surfed great and her early wave in the final was the wave that won it for her."
Today's win was 26 year-old Hedges first ASP victory since she won the Roxy Pro on the Gold Coast in 2007. The following year she had the season off to have daughter Mieka, before returning last season and finishing the year in 7th position on the ASP World Tour Ratings.
The next event for both Hedges and Fitzgibbons will be at Bells Beach beginning March 30th.
Drug Aware Pro Results
Final: 1st Chelsea Hedges (AUS) 15.26 D Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS) 14.73
Sally Fitzgibbons 18.43 D Felicity Palmateer (AUS) 15.66
Chelsea Hedges 14.37 D Tyler Wright (AUS)12.43