In good onshore waves at Bells Beach yesterday it was victory for the determined veteran and the emerging youngster as Australian surfers Nathan Hedge and Stephanie Single respectively won the Men’s and Women’s Association of Surfing Professionals (ASP) Piping Hot Surf Festival 1-Star Qualifying Series divisions.
A close Piping Hot Surf Festival women’s QS final saw 18-year-old Lennox Head surfer Stephanie Single take a narrow victory over WA’s Laura Macauley.
In a see-sawing, lead-changing final, Single found a decisive 9-point ride in the last five minutes to take the win.
‘I’ve just recovered from an ankle injury and I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to compete a week ago,’ said Single. ‘So to come and actually win feels amazing. The waves have been good despite the freezing weather and strong winds, and we’ve all really enjoyed competing on the first event of the ASP 2014 season. It feels special to win this opening event.’
Today’s conditions at Bells were much better for the crowds and surfers with sunshine and a moderate onshore wind and pulsing 1.25-metre (4-foot) surf.
Men’s winner Nathan Hedge has been one of the most famous and formidable surfers on the ASP World Tour for 15 years and his determination and enthusiasm seems as strong as, if not stronger than, ever.
‘I was inspired by Australian tennis legend Lleyton Hewitt’s recent win! He’s such a fighter and has a never-say-die approach to sport and a belief he can beat the best, like he did the other day knocking out Roger Federer in the final, and I’m similar – I believe I can keep going and re-qualify this year on the elite ASP World Championship Tour,’ said 34-year-old Hedge, who has been an ASP World top ten surfer and World Championship Tour finalist during his colourful career.
‘I’ve admired Hewitt all my sporting career with posters on my wall in the early years and right now I feel ready for an amazing year of ASP surfing. The Piping Hot Surf Festival at Bells has been great and it’s good to win down here.’
Hedge scored multiple outstanding 9-point rides on the last day and finished the Final with a healthy 16.00 out of a possible 20 to defeat Nic Squeirs, who had been a stand-out all event. Squeirs also posted multiple excellent 8-point-plus rides on the final day and threw himself right in contention to win when he found an 8.25 ride late in the final, but was unable to find another strong score and was forced to settle for second place.
The Men’s and Women’s Pro junior divisions were run after the open finals and both were tightly contested.
Byron Bay’s Soli Bailey defeated Piping Hot Surf Festival Pro Junior dark-horse Elliot Paerata-Reid from New Zealand. Bailey’s win was accompanied by a semifinal finish in the 1-Star QS division and sets him up for what should be a very promising 2014 season, while Paerata-Reid’s second placing highlighted his potential.
The Piha Beach surfer from New Zealand’s North Island consistently displayed a powerful yet smooth approach and he eliminated plenty of high seeds throughout this event.
Keely Andrew defeated Grace Styman-Lane in the women’s Pro Junior final with an impressive display of powerful, carving surfing today. Andrew finished second place at the opening Pro Junior in Cronulla in September at the first event of the 13/14 ASP Australasia Pro Junior Series and now backed that up with a first here at the Piping Hot Surf Festival and has proven she’s the one to beat this season.
For more information log on to www.PipingHotSurfFestival.com.
Piping Hot Surf Festival Results (Australian unless otherwise stated)
Men’s 1-Star QS Final: 1st Nathan Hedge (16.00) def 2nd Nic Squeirs (14.25)
Women’s 1-Star QS Final: 1st Stephanie Single (15.25) def 2nd Laura Macaulay (13.00)
Men’s Pro Junior Final: 1st Soli Bailey (13.50) def 2nd Elliot Paerata-Reid (NZ) (11.10)
Women’s Pro Junior Final: Keely Andrew (11.50) def 2nd Grace Styman-Lane (10.75)
The Piping Hot Surf Festival is presented by the Victorian Government, Surfing Victoria, ASP Australasia and supported by Coastalwatch PLUS, K-Rock, Target and Team Up.