After giving birth in 2007, former ASP World Champion Chelsea Hedges opted to take the 2008 season off to spend time with her newborn daughter. Now, with a year of motherhood and an ample amount of freesurfing under her belt, she's more eager than ever to get back to the competitive arena. After petitioning the ASP for a wildcard slot for 2009, she was finally granted the 11th seed for the upcoming season. We caught up with her to get her thoughts on rejoining the tour, being a mom, and stepping up to all the rookies on tour.
When did the ASP let you know they were giving you the wildcard?
I received the phone call from Brooke Farris, the ASP Women's World Tour Manager, on about the 23rd of December. When Brooke informed me that I was going to be back on tour, I had the biggest grin from ear to ear! I was holding our baby girl, Meika, at the time and I pretty much started crying after I got off the phone. I thought, "Wow, what a perfect Christmas present!"
Do you think the break from competition has left you rested and fire-up, or a bit rusty?
Having a break from competing in 2008 could be the best thing that has happened for my surfing. After competing and traveling constantly around the world year after year it starts to take its toll on your body and mind. I feel like I am 13 again, starting all over. I am so much more excited about surfing now. Even though I don't get to jump out and go surfing whenever I want to anymore, I appreciate and get so much more amped when I do go surfing. I am definitely fired up to compete again and feel confident I can win another world title.
Watching the tour last year, who do you think will be the biggest threats?
Besides Stephie [Gilmore], I think the new girls like Sally Fitzgibbons and Coco Ho will definitely cause some upsets, but Mel Bartels was doing some great surfing last year and I think she will be a big threat for the world title in 2009 if she can stay focused.
What have you been doing during this year off?
Enjoying being a mum!
Will you have a major sponsor going into this season?
I currently do not have a major sponsor. Roxy has been a great sponsor throughout my career thus far and has supported me over the past 10 years and for the duration of my pregnancy, which I very much appreciate. Unfortunately, they were unable to go ahead with their proposed contract. My hubby and family will be helping and supporting me 100 percent with traveling and the tour for 2009.