A RETURN to judges rewarding power surfing has improved former world No.7 Nathan Hedge's chances of again cracking the ASP World Tour.
So says Sunshine Coast-based elite coach Graham Endersby, who has marvelled at the form of the Coast-based veteran since his return to competitive surfing this year after a long absence.
The power-surfing throwback has been shining against the largely younger aerial brigade, though the 34-year-old's bid to return to the premier tour suffered a setback yesterday when he was eliminated in the round of 48 at the Billabong Pro South Africa.
Hedge (pictured) finished third in his heat, held at the famed J-Bay, with a two-wave score of 12.10 (out of 20).
Hawaiian Ezekiel Lau won the heat (14.55) to progress to the round of 24 at the top-rated Star event.
Also failing to progress yesterday was Twin Waters' Chris Friend, who finished last in his heat.
It was better news for the rejuvenated Mitch Coleborn.
The Coast product progressed by winning his heat with a score of 14.34.
Coleborn, who beat US legend Kelly Slater at the world tour's Volcom Fiji Pro last month, claimed another major scalp yesterday when he consigned Brazil's world No.4 Adriano De Souza (11.37) to second place in their heat.
Despite Hedge's stumble yesterday, Endersby finds his erstwhile style refreshing.
"In this age and era when you've got everyone doing aerials, he's just a very, very good tradesman as far as normal turns go," the foundation co-coach of Surfing Australia's High Performance Centre said.
"His sea craft is amazing. He just knows which waves to go on, which ones to leave … it's good to see there's a place for every one in our sport.
"Powerful turns are getting more appreciated now than they were 18 months ago, and that's what Hedgie is - he's a power surfer," Endersby added.
While the coach believes Hedge is benefiting from a judging shift, he fears his poor aerial ability may derail him.
He said he was unsure if Hedge was trying to add air to his arsenal, but added: "It's pretty hard to teach an old dog new tricks."
Not every venue suited power surfing, he said, but there were three high-rated world tour qualifying events in Hawaii at the end of the season that should accommodate Hedge's style.
"Through sheer willpower he's getting results to get back where he wants to be. It's a fantastic story," Endersby said.