It's official. Hedge funds are back.

Hedge Fund Research Inc (HFRI) and Eurekahedge say their annual reports for 2009 show that hedge funds were up for the 12-month period, with HFRI recording industry returns of 20.04% and Eurekahedge reporting returns of 19.16%. The figures redress the woes of 2008, when hedge funds were down 19% according to HFRI and off 11% according to Eurekahedge. The turnaround began this time last year when hedge funds showed the first positive returns since May 2008.

Funds of hedge funds were also up, by 9.5% for the year, in the wake of a 19.7% fall in 2008.

However, both pale in comparison to long-only managers, which were up 47% last year.

Asia ex-Japan strategies were up 38%, and even Japan managed a 6.8% increase. Neither were the top regional strategy though -- that honour fell to Russia and Eastern Europe, which was up 60%.

The most successful hedge fund strategy for 2009, according to both research firms, was (drum roll) event-driven. That strategy took top honours, with a 38% haul according to Eurekahedge and 25.9% by HFRI's measure.

Taking silver medal was distressed debt, with 37%, says Eurekahedge, but HFRI put relative value in second spot, with 25.8%. Eurekahedge has relative value in bronze-medal position, with 23.1%, while HFRI's third spot was claimed by equity hedge, with 25.07%.