LUCKY BREAK FOR CHELSEA
By BOB ANTHONY
SURFING success can be all about "lucky breaks".
Yesterday in her semi final against Brazilian Silvana Lima, Coolangatta's Chelsea Hedges got that break literally when her opponent's leg rope snapped with about three minutes to go in the contest.
Hedges, who had trailed Lima until that stage of the semi, showed plenty of composure and took her opportunity to post a solid score to take her past the Brazilian who never recovered from the leash setback.
She then took that form into the final of the Roxy Pro yesterday to claim the title on her home break against Hawaiian "wonder kid" Carissa Moore.
Hedges dominated the final in what was pretty much an anti-climax as inconsistent waves marred what the huge crowd was hoping would be a dynamic display of women's surfing in the building swell.
Moore, the 14-year-old who became the youngest ever ASP elite tour finalist, had rapidly become a crowd favourite through a combination of exciting surfing and charming innocence but she failed to put it together against the 2005 world champion.
For Hedges, riding on one of her husband Jason's surfboards, the win was especially sweet being in front of her family and friends.
"It's a pretty amazing feeling," Hedges said.
"I really wanted to win here because I've never won at Snapper before and my family was on the beach too, so I'm pretty amped. "I was waiting for Carissa to grab a bomb (set wave) and score a 9.0 or something but luckily for me she didn't.
"It's always difficult when you draw a dark horse or any of the younger girls because they surf so crazy these days, they have so much drive."
Earlier in the day, she came up against her good friend and fellow Coolangatta surfer, Stephanie Gilmore.
In that heat, Hedges gave an indication of her determination to get through to the final, applying plenty of pressure on Gilmore early in the quarter final and forcing her friend to rely on a high scoring wave towards the end of the contest.
The wave never came.
"Steph has beaten me out here before and today I got her back so it was really good for my confidence because I have a lot of respect for her," Hedges said.
Against Lima, Hedges knew she was in for a real battle after the Brazilian had posted the highest single wave score of 9.80 and combined total of 18.80 against Melanie Redman-Carr in the quarter finals.
But sport can be totally unpredictable and Lima's misfortune was Hedges's good fortune.
Now as the reigning Roxy Pro champion, Hedges has gotten her 2007 ASP campaign off to the perfect start.
She was presented with her trophy and cheque for $12,000 (US) by former world women's surfing champion and Kingscliff resident Phyllis O'Donnell.
The next event on the women's tour is Bells Beach for the Rip Curl Pro. After a one-year hiatus from the elite-tour calendar, the historical venue will be back from April 3 to 8.