Former professional surfer Nathan Hedge is relishing the prospect of returning to competition against a quality field of south coast residents in Saturday’s Battle Royale.
“I love to compete, I’ve had an absence from full-time competition since last year. I’ve had six months of transitioning into a normal working life, so I’m just really excited to put the rash vest back on.” Hedge said.
“I love the format, the way it’s run with the man on man heats and how it’s a CT [Championship Tour] style format.
“It’s got really good respect in the area and I like how they get local businesses to sponsor the athletes.”
This Saturday’s competition will be the fourth edition of the Battle Royale and it is quickly becoming one of the most hotly contested surfing events in the area.
Founder Dylan Perese established the competition to provide the region’s surfers with the ability to compete against high quality opposition.
“We felt that there was not a huge platform for local surfers who surf really well but couldn’t afford to travel and do the qualifying series but they have the talent.” Perese said.
“We tried to bring all the talent together from a semi-professional level and an ex-professional level to combine it with the local shredders.”
The event will also feature Blake Thornton, a natural footer with experience on the world tour, and Gerroa’s Dean Bowen, a former world junior champion.
Hedge recently moved to Gerringong and quickly became attached to the region’s numerous beaches.
“I like the variety of setups, there’s about 30 different types of waves, and the crowds, or lack of crowds, I should say.” Hedge said.
The 38-year-old spent six years on the tour where he had the opportunity to surf alongside the likes of Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning.
“It was a pretty incredible experience really. Getting to compete at that time was a magical experience and it shaped my life. Incredible competitors like Andy Irons, Mick Fanning, Parko [Joel Parkinson], the Hobgood brothers, Kelly Slater, everyone was on there then, so it was pretty incredible to compete alongside those legends.”
However, towards the end of his world tour run, the Port Kembla stevedore fell into the trappings of fame. He regularly placed partying above surfing and quickly saw his performance deteriorate. He urges young surfers to surround themselves with a strong team and to consider how their surfing will be affected by the decisions they make.
“Surround yourself with like minded people making good healthy choices. Having good mentors in your life, good guys that you look up to, is importan.”
“When you’re looking at making a decision, think does this keep me in the water or does this take me away from the water?
“And that’s what it did for me, it took me away from surfing and it was not enhancing my surfing. If there’s a choice that can keep you in the water and it’s enhancing, it’s probably a good one.”
Event Organisers promise exciting day
Event organisers are promising an exciting day both inside and outside the water at Saturday’s Battle Royale.
“You can expect a really good day, we’re going to have a lot of talent in the draw to watch in the water. Apart from the surfing, there will be plenty of entertainment as well.” Perese said.
“We’re going to have a whole lot of lucky beach giveaways, raffles, a huge board demo and live music. It should be just a great atmosphere on the day and an event definitely worth watching.
“Spectators will get a chance to watch some high quality surfing and also take home some amazing prizes, including a trip to Bali.”
The location of the event will depend on the surf conditions, with options ranging from Stanwell Park to Sandon Point. Thirroul beach is the most likely venue.
The location will be confirmed on the DP Surfboards social media channels at 6am, with competition set to commence at 7am. The finals will take place around 3pm.