Manly Beach, Sydney (Monday, October 29); 2005 ASP World Surfing Champion CHELSEA HEDGES (Tweed Heads, 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 (Gold Coast, 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," added Hedges,
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 as it carries USD100000 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," added Gilmore.
"But hopefully I will be just as dangerous as they are on the day," added Gilmore.
ISA world junior champion LAURA ENEVER (Narrabeen, 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 the Australian champion on hearing of the entrance of Hedges.
"It's actually a privilege to be able to compete against her," added Enever.
TYLER WRIGHT (Culburra, NSW), ARINI MASON (NZ), KIRBY WRIGHT (Culburra, NSW) ELLIE-JEAN COFFEY (Crescent Head, NSW), CHARLOTTE HAND (Freshwater, NSW) and TIANA McNEVEN (Tugun, QLD) will also contest the trials.
Chelsea Hedges with her daughter, Mieka, and current Women’s World Champion Stephanie Gilmore.
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.