Mental toughness will give Hedge the World Tour edge
SUNSHINE Coast surfer and former world No.6 Nathan Hedge has been described by his board shaper as the most mentally tough surfer on the qualifying circuit.
Shaper Damon Weir declared Hedge the ultimate competitor with the fitness, skill and mindset to grace the World Championship Tour in 2014.
"Mentally, he's stronger than anyone else in the field and that's because of where he's been and how hard he's fought to get to where he is now," Weir said.
A top-10 surfer in 2004 and 2005, Hedge returned to serious competition last year after a two-year
absence, to finish 2012 ranked 78.
Currently 43rd in the ASP rankings, Hedge will compete in the Coca-Cola Quiksilver Saquarema Prime event this week as he seeks championship points.
Facing off against 13th ranked Hawaiian Dusty Payne in his round one heat today, Weir said Hedge wouldn't be intimidated by the task.
"If anything, coming up against Dusty first-up will fire him up, so he won't be letting that bother him," he said.
"Hedge has been there and done that all before and he's in sensational form, so I expect a good result from him."
The 34-year-old goofy-footer has had a steady 2013 nabbing a 25th and 33rd in his first three outings for the year, with his best result a 17th at the Drug Aware Margaret River Pro in Western Australia.
Catching up with Hedge a fortnight ago, Weir said the former professional was in the shape of his life.
"I've never seen him fitter and he looks very good," he said. "Just talking with him, he's focused and determined and I believe he'll be back on the tour next year.
"It is surfing and anything can happen, but with the form he's in he'll be hard to stop."
Last year was a mixed bag for Hedge as he battled for consistency to record two top 10 finishes.
His best result was a second at Korea's Murasaki Quiksilver Open before finishing seventh at Spain's Cabreiroa Classic Pro.