A decade ago, Narrabeen’s Nathan Hedge was on top of the world. He was in the top ten of the World Championship Tour, had lucrative sponsorship deals and was considered a threat at any number of World Tour stops. Then, his well-documented downfall began – in 2006 he failed to requalify and as a result he turned to alcohol.
Recently, Nathan told Tracks Magazine: “That first year off tour I was pumped to get back on, I won a prime event in Scotland and thought I’ll get back on. Next few years it was a case of if nothing changes, nothing changes. With the choices I was making, I got stuck in a place where I lost my gratitude, took my talents for granted, and basically burnt out! I was just doing what I was doing cause that was all I knew. I had a lot to deal with, shitloads actually. Things only started to change when I went from a place of blame to ownership, started living and breathing in the solution.”
Now, the man affectionately known as Hog is back - sober, healthy, and focused on getting back on the WSL Championship Tour, as well as helping surfing’s next generations to realise their potential. Back in May, our friends at Surfing NSW joined Nathan at a junior coaching session with Manly Surf School and chatted to him about how he overcame certain obstacles and what it takes to chase your dreams...
Interview with Nathan Hedge & Surfing NSW
What is one thing you’ve found help you get through mental hurdles? I think remaining positive is one of the big things. One thing that has helped me is to start my day the right way. Being out in the water to see the sun come up and staying connected to the ocean is a huge thing for me. How I spend my first hour of the day often paves my mindset for the entire day. In the past, if I’ve got too far away from the ocean then I’ve found myself looking for things like drugs and alcohol or have chased things that been unfulfilling and I’ve usually come up short.
What about overcoming things like fear? With things like fear, you really want to ensure you’ve put in the hard yards where you need to, so you can back yourself in those situations that might be a bit scary. It’s all about finding what works for you and sticking to it.
Do you know the three biggest obstacles you’ve overcome? Lifestyle choices like partying with drugs and alcohol and going through that journey and choosing to do what is right for me was a big one. When I was young my role models were partying a lot, but I found out down the track that I didn’t have to do the same. Also, I think getting somewhere early so all your preparation is done is something I discovered has helped me to chase my goals. Keeping things simple and focusing on the task at hand is something else I’ve discovered has helped me to stay on track. If I’m doing something, then I feel I’m best to apply myself to that one thing. For a long time I think I tried to do too many things at once instead of living in the present moment and taking each step as it comes.
If you had any tips for aspiring professional surfers, what would you tell them? I think you need to spend some time on your own and put the work in yourself. No one can give you the guts to paddle into a big wave or to do something you don’t want to do. Also, trust your gut instincts, if something doesn’t feel right then maybe its best not to do it. It’s important for people to trust their intuition.
Would we be right in assuming that your next obstacle would be requalifying for the World Championship Tour? Yeah it is a big obstacle and I know there’s a lot of kids that are 15 years younger than me that are now leading the sport. I guess it’s about belief in myself. I’ve already had an amazing career and a lot of people would probably hang their hat up and say ‘enough is enough,’ but I want to give it a good crack and put my neck on the line.
Follow Nathan "Hog" on Instagram - @nhedge_hog | Photos provided by Surfing NSW