Three time Bodyboarding World Champion, Ben Player, married the love of his life Jenna last month, on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, in his classic cream 100% Australian Merino wool InStitchu tuxedo, paired back with white sneakers—we think he absolutely nailed it. While he was in our Showroom, we caught up with Ben about the highlights of his career, his passions outside of the water and planning for his wedding day.
What’s been the highlight of your career? Anything you still want to achieve?
Hmmm, that is a tough question to answer. I had a professional career for 20 years and had so many amazing experiences. I travelled to some beautiful places, met some incredible people and managed to win a few world titles in between. But I would have to say that the highlight of my career would probably be Far North (a 40 minute movie which documents Ben in the far North Atlantic, surfing some of the craziest waves on the planet in the darkness of winter). I was so proud the first time that I watched it that I shed a tear, and was even prouder when the movie made it to ‘most popular’ documentary movie on iTunes.And yes, like all professional athletes that love their sport, I still have goals and want to achieve more with my career. I don’t think that I’ll be ever able to switch that off. Pushing myself through my surfing has been such a large part of my existence that I accept it is a part of who I am. But these days, after almost dying during the filming of Far North (as a result of rupturing my spleen while surfing), I realise that our time on this planet is fleeting and I also need to consider my personal goals. So now I combine my personal goals with career goals for a healthier balance. At the moment, my personal goals like getting married and starting a family are sitting at the top of my priorities, and my surfing goals sit under that. But my surfing goals will always be there—I’d love to do a follow up to Far North one day.
What is it about bodyboarding that you love? Do you head out on a day off, or does it feel like work now? Life has changed a lot in the past few years.
What I love about bodyboarding has changed a lot over my career. It began as a vehicle to have fun and try to get some form of social status, but in my mid-twenties it became more about a vehicle, or tool to challenge myself with. I get a lot of satisfaction out of challenging myself and progression, and with a boogie I can do that every day as long as there is waves. Which works well because these days, I don’t surf for a living, but I can still get that satisfaction from challenging myself before I start work (Ben started a business of importing and distributing bodyboards and soft surfboards about 4 years ago), and when the waves are good I try to surf as much as possible.
Was this something you were always sure you were going to do as a career, or did you fall in-to it?
I never questioned if I was going to make it or not with my career. I always believed entirely that having a career as a professional bodyboarder was an eventuality. I know that stubborn ambition of mine used to freak my parents out a bit. My dad would sometimes try to encourage me to study or get a trade under my belt in case I didn’t make it, but I never did and decided instead to focus all of my energy on trying to succeed at having a career in bodyboarding. But it wasn’t easy. No one is a natural with any sports. Sure, there are people that progress quicker than other people, but no one ever starts and is instantly the best. The only way to become the best is by breaking down the biggest goals into smaller and smaller goals, until they become daily, or even hourly goals. And then giving everything to succeeding at them.
Are there spiritual or lifestyle differences to bodyboarding than surfing?
I don’t think there is a difference. I believe riding waves can be somewhat like meditation and quite spiritual. When you think about it, surfing has a lot of the ingredients of meditation. You’re sometimes alone and silent in nature, and you sit and focus on a single point on the horizon as you wait for the next wave. And then on top of that, you have the wave energy which actually moves through you the same way that it moves through the ocean. I don’t think surfers give that side of surfing enough credit.
What are your passions outside of the water? Any hobbies or interests?
I’m super passionate about my business, Action Distribution (we import and distribute the bodyboard brand NMD and Versus). I know that sounds like a pretty boring answer, and it is to everyone else, but it's the truth. In recent years, I have found owning a business super interesting. I guess when you think about it though, business isn’t much different to having a career in surfing. The same kind of rules apply. It is all about creating a huge goal and breaking it down into smaller and smaller goals that you can achieve daily.
What would you say to any young kids considering giving bodyboarding a crack as a career, or as a hobby?
The best advice that I can give anyone for achieving anything is to give it 110% commitment and don’t stop until you get there. Next step is to define where ‘there’ is, and then to create small achievable goals. I like to try and paint a picture that the smaller goals are like lanterns along the path to the top of the mountain, and by following those lanterns there is no way you will get lost.
How would you describe your own sense of style? Do you feel comfortable in a suit or are you more at home in a pair of boardies and a tee?
It depends, I like the way I look in a suit, especially my InStitchu tux, and I believe that if you’re confident in how you look, you will be comfortable. My daily sense of style is pretty weird though. I think I kind of borrow my styles from different eras of fashion. Sometimes I have a British sense of style (collared shirt and trousers) which was passed down from my Dad. Sometimes I have a surf style which consists of Vans and a loose tee. But lately I have been getting inspired by TV characters like Jerry Seinfeld and Ace Ventura. Jenna hates it. Haha!
How did you feel about your InStitchu experience? What did create?
I think all of us have vision, or expectation, of how it would feel to get a suit made for a special occasion. It isn’t something that most of us do often - it isn’t something that surfers do often anyway - so you want the experience to be pretty special. I roughly knew that I wanted a light coloured suit to match my fiancé, Jenna’s wedding dress. We went through every design option and detail and decided on a beautifully fitted creme wool suit with a single buttoned jacket. Safe to say that the experience - and the suit - exceeded any expectation I ever had and helped make our wedding a special moment that I will never forget..
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