March  3 - 9, 2024: Issue 616


Chelsea Hedges (Née Georgeson) Australian Surfing Hall Of Fame Inductee 2024

Photo: Smith/Surfing Australia
Surfing Australia was thrilled to announce that Chelsea Hedges, 2005 World Champion, would be inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame at the Australian Surfing Awards, held at the iconic Bondi Pavilion at Bondi Beach in Sydney on Wednesday, February 28.

Chelsea, who follows in the footsteps of last year's inductee, Taj Burrow, said it was a huge honour.

"There are so many surfers and idols already on that wall. Every time you walk into Surfing Australia, you see all those amazing names up there. To be recognised alongside my peers Layne, Taj, Mick, Joel, and Simon Anderson - I wasn’t part of the generations before that - but all those people, like Pauline, Layne and Pam, paved the way for us. It’s just an honour to be held in the same regard as these amazing athletes before me."

Chelsea's skills as a goofy-footer were recognised early on by four-time world champion Lisa Andersen, who introduced her to Andrew Murphy, the Roxy and Quiksilver team manager at that time.

Known for charging big waves, her power surfing, and strong backhand attack, Chelsea won a World Junior title in 2001 and, after just one year on the Qualifying Series, qualified for the World Championship Tour. In her first year, she finished an impressive eighth in the world.

Chelsea represented Australia on Tour for a decade. She was twice crowned International Surfing Association (ISA) World Champion (2002, 2010) and won the World Championship title as well as the Triple Crown of Surfing in 2005.

Since retiring from competition, Chelsea has been making her mark as a coach and mentor to the next generation of athletes, as part of Surfing Australia’s talent identification pathway. She recently took part in the inaugural Generation 2032 coach development program, an initiative helping to support female high-performance coaches.

Chelsea now lives in Tweed Heads on Queensland’s Gold Coast, with her husband and three children.

Chelsea Hedges named 46th inductee to Australian Surfing Hall of Fame. Images: Peter Joli Wilson

The Chelsea Show

Chelsea Georgeson grew up surfing Avalon and in NASA with her brothers Ryan and Kane. 

In 1997, when she was just 14 years old, Chelsea caught the attention of American four-time world champion Lisa Anderson, who was living in Avalon at the time.

Lisa was blown away by Chelsea’s raw talent and took her under her wing, convincing Quiksilver to sign the young Avalon grommet on to its Roxy surf team.

It didn't take long for Roxy to get a return on its investment. In 1998, Chelsea became under 16 Australian Junior World Champion, at the age of fifteen. 

Chelsea soon collected a number of other trophies before turning pro and qualifying for the World Championship Tour in 2002.

She finished fourth on the WCT in 2003 and third in 2004.  And then it all came together in 2005.

After a relatively slow start to the year—and one in which a 17-year-old wildcard Stephanie Gilmore burst onto the scene winning the first event on the Gold Coast—Chelsea came back to win the Billabong Tahiti Pro in the middle of the year in solid 6-foot surf.  She followed that confidence-boosting victory with a runner-up finish in Cornwall and another win in France.

Heading into the last two events in Hawaii, Chelsea and best friend Sofia Mulanovich from Peru were vying for the world title.

Chelsea ended up blowing Sofia and everyone else away.  She won the Roxy Pro at Haleiwa in solid 6 to 8 foot surf, collecting a perfect 10 point ride along the way.  She then won the Billabong Pro at Honolulu Bay in similar conditions to take the world championship and the triple crown, becoming the first athlete in women’s surfing history to achieve this trifecta.

By Phil Jones, NASA

Pittwater Online caught up with Chelsea on Tuesday, just after she landed in Sydney for the Australian Surfing Awards.

Congratulations! A girl from Avalon Beach getting inducted into the Australian Surfing Hall of Fame – how does it feel?

When I was first told I was in shock and now that it’s sinking in it’s still pretty overwhelming, especially when I look at the list of surfers and legends who are already on that inductee list, going way back to the very start of Australian Surfing HOF. To have that recognition is very honourable and I’m very humbled by it.

When I look at those past inductees and what they have done for surfing, which is not necessarily how many World Titles they have won, but how they have conducted themselves and the footprint they have left for our sport, that to me is what this award is about – not only the great memories they have left but all they have done to advance surfing for everyone.

Still, you remain a hero to many up and coming female surfers, along with the generation before them who are still surfing – and having started as a teenager yourself, who helped you along the way? Pearl Turton’s brother Ron shared a few years back that Pearl was one of your early supporters?

Yes, she did help me out. After I’d done a few junior events Pearl paid my entry fee into an event, which from memory was at Manly, one Layne held one year. Our family weren’t super-wealthy and Pearl, being from our area, took an interest and it was a beautiful thing that she wanted to help support local young surfers and helped support me in surfing. 

Ron Turton, Pearls' brother, explained years back;
“Pearl would ring me and say ‘I saw this little grommet surfing and she didn’t come anywhere, but she has something – I can see something there, she was really having a good go. She’s getting my Encouragement Award and I’m going to give her something towards entrance fees for upcoming competitions'. 
I think some people have that ability to spot something if it’s there, and Pearl was like that, she could see the potential. Well it turned out that girl, still at school then, was Chelsea Georgeson, who has since won a World Championship. Pearl was really chuffed about her win.

Pearl herself said: “Never take it for granted. Make the most of it while you can,"... "It's still an exciting time for women's surfing. It always will be."

Pittwater Council's Pittwater Report: August 1998; Avalon Skate bowl just about to open - pollution solution for Narrabeen creek - Three Council Meetings per month!!! - Pittwater's Housing Strategy prior to DCP and LEP being formed - and Chelsea Georgeson WINS Open division of Barrenjoey Surf Dreaming Competition. Copy with thanks to Dave Murray

And then Lisa Anderson, a lovely lady who was living here at that time, also supported you to keep surf?

When I think of Lisa Anderson she is one of the reasons I wanted to be a professional surfer, and certainly gave me inspiration. When she came to Avalon, she was probably the first professional surfer I’d seen surf in real life. The way she looked on a wave was so graceful and stylish and I wanted to look like that, and for other girls to see me surfing like that and hopefully inspire them in the way I’d been inspired. 

Lisa drew me into surfing as that’s what it’s all about really – inspiring others to enjoy the water, enjoy the sport and do what you can to get better at what you’re doing out there while maintaining your love for the water and the sport. That has been and become, even now, a big part of my life; to share that with others and try and inspire the next generation. Young athletes today benefit from having support and feedback around their sport so that it’s not just about the competitions but also about why they surf, why they compete; finding the real reason for it, and that to me was what Lisa gave – she was a big part of my ‘why’ in the early days. 

So what would you say to a 13 or 14 year old who loves their surfing and wants to go further? – you had a long career in surfing, around 20 years, 10 on the Tour, which is pretty gruelling; how did you do that?

I was there for probably 15 to 20 years all up, 9 or 10 years on the actual World Tour and from 15 on through the Juniors. 

The World Tour can be pretty testing though – living out of a bag, on to the next place?

It was a whirlwind; I was straight out of High School and straight on to the was an amazing adventure – that’s how I would describe it – an adventure I’ll never forget. Back then, for me, that’s what it was about – I was learning as I was going along. If I could say something to my 14 year old self it would be ‘just go for it’ – you only get one shot at life, and if you can do something that you love for a living, or simply just to give it a crack, just go for it. 

Obviously things have changed a lot now, it’s a lot more professional, the support system and networks are in place to help you excel. Within Surfing Australia there are an amazing amount of programs available today to ensure you can give it a go. I think if you surround yourself with people that are encouraging you, get involved in your local boardrider club, find out what’s available, but mainly keep that support around you, you ca give it a go.

You are a Barrenjoey High School girl, an alumnus. Now, did you spend much time in school or were you always over at North Avalon Beach Chelsea?

(laughs) It wasn’t far to go for a wave, that’s for sure. It was the best, the best place to grow up, honestly. I have such great memories of Barrenjoey High School – I went to school, I loved school; I had a really good group of girlfriends and friends I grew up with in High School and it was just the best time.

Even when I was travelling, when I was a Junior, I loved coming back to High School because there was a great community feeling and all our teachers were so encouraging. 

I remember we had a program that Mr. Brown came up with where Japanese students would come to our school. He created a surf exhibition where we’d go down the beach and a couple of us surfers would go out and surf and they would stand on the beach and clap and cheer – they thought it was this amazing thing, they couldn’t believe it. We’d do a sausage sizzle afterwards – it was great. So our teachers were super-encouraging and I think they saw it was crazy not to when you look at where we lived and where the school was, right behind the sand dunes of North Avalon Beach – how can you deny that from the kids at a school that is on the beach?

From my point of view it was the healthiest lifestyle – living in that area – so the encouragement from the school was amazing.

[Editor's NB: The Honour Roll - Previous School Surfing Champions Under-19 Girls Mark Richards Shield lists the 1999 winners as: Chelsea Georgeson / Grace Quiney; Barrenjoey High School NSW - both girls also worked in Beach Without Sand, North Avalon shops (Wato and Kong), as youngsters, along with being best mates].

Barrenjoey High School were one of the initiators of getting surfing as a school sport up for everyone – so good on them.

I think you can think my sister-in-law Belinda for being a part of that.

And you were a Member of NASA (North Avalon Surfriders Association)?

Yes – my dad Clive was part of the committee; he was a president or vice-president at one stage. He used to run it with Petey Owens, back in the day.

You have been World Champion and won the Triple Crown in the same year; how did you get to that level and achieve that, what was happening on Tour?

I was having the time of my life; my husband Jason was travelling with me at the time, I had a really great relationship with one of the girls on the Tour, Sofia Mulanovich from Peru. We were best friends but the biggest rivals too and I think that was a huge part of where I got to. It was not only Sofia but my other friends on tour; Rochelle Ballard, Megan Abubo, Kate Wilcomes, we were our own support network – we didn’t have teams of sports psychologists and coaches travelling with us, we had each other. Within that we created competition and rivalries with each other – we were a travelling family up to a point but we also wanted to beat each other so that made for a lot of fun and naturally competition. It evolved and happened naturally but also happened quite fast.

It takes a few years for it to come together. I still see it now with girls on the Tour, it takes a year or two to get your feet on to the Tour and get a feel for different wave profiles. Back then you were just thrown in the deep end to have a go, so we didn’t have access to going to surfing waves as much as what you do now. We were going to these unbelievable locations, and just for that experience alone, how could you not enjoy that?

Every location I went to I would go back to why I surfed in the first place and for me it really was just about trying to inspire people, to walk away from that event going ‘yep’; Chelsea’s name was thrown out in the free surfs, and trying to give something that people would remember – ‘remember Chelsea’s wave at that comp.’ – whether it was in the free surfing sessions or in the competitions, I was always trying to push the boundaries at each location.

You have kept your toes in the water, taking on coaching and mentoring, and recently took part in the inaugural Generation 2032 Coach Development Program – what is that about?

This was funded through the Queensland Academy of Sport. The QAS and AIS came together and recognised women coaches as a necessity throughout all sports. As sports is a male-dominated area, and with so many female athletes craving that female support, mentorship and coaching, they recognised that gap and created the QAS Gen. 2032 Program which is focussing on the lead into the Brisbane 2032 Olympics. 

They target myself and 10 other coaches, including two male athletes in disciplines from swimming to rugby, aerial skiing, soccer, diving, para. It was about getting us together as a cohort and learning from each other as coaches along with getting feedback and tutoring from the world’s best coaches.

It was unreal; so many learnings and experiences hearing from some of the world’s best coaches in their sport and how to put that into practice as a coach.

You are now a mum with three children – how do you maintain a balance with all you’re doing now alongside that – did being on Tour help with doing everything at once?

Yes, to a certain extent. When I retired and stepped away from being on Tour there were obviously financial factors such as not being able to fund it anymore. We had had our first daughter and travelled for a few years with her trying to make it work, but at that stage the surfing industry market was at the bottom and we just didn’t want to do it off a credit card anymore. So I decided to walk away from surfing and start a new chapter in life. We wanted to have our family and I wanted to be a mum, that’s something I always wanted to do.

So I had a break and quite a few years away from the surf industry, which was a really important thing to do as it gives you perspective, and then stepping back into the industry as a coach enabled me to bring all that previous experience along with my values into what I do. My family is the biggest value in my life but it’s also about the passion I have for surfing too. I’ll never put surfing and coaching before my family, and have been clear about that and setting those boundaries, and that in turn enables and betters what I do. 

I think it’s really important in whichever setting you work to have that clear understanding between employer and employee, and once that respect of what should be is in place, it works. Everyone benefits; you wake up and you want to go to work, as I do everyday. I love going and doing coaching because I have my time with my family. I love being with them and then I’m recharged when I go back to work.

What are your favourite places in Pittwater and why?

Well, off-rocks at North Avalon, because it’s a left-hander obviously – I grew up surfing that wave so it will always be a favourite. Another would be Whaley’s Wedge.

What is your ‘motto for life’ or a favourite phrase you try to live by?

Live life to the fullest.

4 Australian Womens World Champs together: Chelsea Hedges (2024 Inductee to HOF), Pam Burridge (1997 Inductee to HOF), Stephanie Gilmore (2013 Inductee to HOF), Pauline Menczer (2018 Inductee to HOF). More at:

Vaughan Blakey, co-host of this years awards (with Jess Grimwood) Chelsea and Stephanie, Photos: Smith/Surfing Australia


'Rookie' Georgeson wins Roxy Pro

October 10, 2003 —  from Sydney Morning Herald

Chelsea Georgeson defeated five-time world champion Layne Beachley to win the Roxy Pro France on Thursday but Beachley closed to within 36 points of the ratings lead.

Let her rip
By Peter Wilmoth
December 4, 2005 —  ran in the The Age, retrieved from


The road to stardom began the moment Georgeson started boogie boarding with her brothers and watching her father surf around the surf-mad Sydney suburb of Avalon, where she grew up. She played all sorts of sports — netball, basketball, tennis, sailing — but it was while mucking around on a big, thick 2.2 metre board that she became addicted to surfing. Encouragement from the local boys helped. "I was having heaps of fun," she remembers. "The guys I was surfing with were very supportive. They were really cool. I surfed with them every day after school."

When the swell dropped or when an onshore wind ripped up the waves, she would watch surfing videos starring early influences such as American surfers Rob Machado and former four-time world champion Lisa Anderson, whose powerful moves impressed Georgeson. "She surfed like a guy," Georgeson says of Anderson. "Watching girls surf, it's more girlie, there's a certain style. It's not a bad thing, it's just a more feminine style."

Georgeson's admirers now speak of her "male" style in the water. "A lot of women surf with a flowing, graceful style," says Tracks magazine editor Sean Doherty, "while Chelsea attacks the wave, almost in a male style. A lot of the pro guys watch her and are blown away. It's still pretty to watch, but she's got that mentality where she sets out to attack the wave."

As a young teenager Georgeson started entering local competitions, and was excited the first time she won: the prize was a trophy, a backpack, a hat and a wetsuit.

At 15, a quietly spoken but independent young woman, she travelled alone to the centre of surfing, Hawaii, hooking up with representatives from her sponsor, surf clothing group Roxy. "My parents were confident I knew how to look after myself," she says.

Her first impressions of Hawaii have never left her. "The waves were pretty scary, but it was just perfect, beautiful beaches, sunny, hot water, it was like a playground. It was four kilometres of beaches with perfect waves." She remembers her first surf at the world-famous Sunset Beach. "I was riding a little five-foot-seven, having fun, just catching the little ones."

At 17, she decided to pursue the dream of every young girl "grommet" and join the world women's surfing tour, travelling with and competing against young women from France, Hawaii, Brazil, the US and Peru. It was a decision that her parents supported, although "Mum was a little bit worried".

Georgeson's mother had cause to be worried. One day, while warming up at Cloudbreak, a famous wave that breaks onto a reef in Fiji, Georgeson suffered a horrible wipe-out. "It was a big day, they were coming in on the reef really hard," she says. "I didn't realise how heavy the sets were." Paddling into a wave, she realised it was going to hell and she had no place on it, so she jumped off. But it was too late to avoid going "over the falls", whereby the force of the wave pulls you down into its pit. She was held under for what seemed a long time and suffered "a bit of whiplash". "You've got to relax in those situations," she says now. "Eventually you'll come up to the top."


In this country, she's surfing's "it" girl, but if she wins the world title, it will be the making of a star: the button will be pushed immediately on a national and global Roxy marketing campaign where Georgeson's profile will be international. "What I've seen over the last couple of years is that surf athletes are becoming the new heroes for young girls, taking over from athletes like Cathy Freeman," says Kristen Rudduck, Roxy Australasian marketing manager

She tells a story about Georgeson meeting a 10-year-old girl who, invited to go to school dressed as her hero, went along as Georgeson, in a wetsuit and holding a surfboard. 

"It was a moment where Chelsea realised the positive impact that she can now have on young girls," says Rudduck

Inaugural QAS Gen2032 program

June 20, 2023:

The Queensland Academy of Sport (QAS) has successfully led the first pilot for the Gen2032 Coach Program with ten coaches graduating after two years of training and mentoring.

The QAS pilot is part of the Australian Institute of Sport’s (AIS) National Generation 2032 Coach Program which aims to increase the number and diversity of Australia’s high-performance coaches ahead of the 2032 Brisbane Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The graduating cohort included retired elite athletes surfing champion Chelsea Hedges and Wallaroos flanker Shannon Parry.

Swimming Australia Para Coach Casey Atkins said the diversity of learning opportunities in the program has been valuable to her development as a coach.

Ms Atkins is one of eight women from the QAS cohort who will be continuing into the AIS National Gen2032 Coach Program for a third year of development and learning.

Learn more about the QAS and National Gen2032 Coach Programs which form part of the AIS High Performance Coach Development Strategy at National Generation 2032 Coach Program | Australian Institute of Sport (

About You for 2032

The aim of this multi-sport talent identification program is to find the next generation of Queensland Olympic and Paralympic champions.

We are looking for young people with the raw athletic talent to succeed in one of our target sports. You don’t need to have experience in one of these sports to apply – in fact we are looking for those with skills and abilities that can be transferred into a new sport! This talent search is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to step outside of your comfort zone and explore new athletic challenges with the support of the Queensland Academy of Sport and National Sporting Organisations.

Whether you have prior experience or not, this search is designed to help you explore your full sporting potential. If you’re between 13 and 23 years old (Olympic) or 13 and 30 years old (Paralympic) and have the desire to compete at the highest level of sport, we’re looking for you!


Photos: A J Guesdon/Pittwater Online News