Last week we launched Broadcast Presents across our UK stores. An ongoing series that shall see us bring film, visuals and other beautiful idiosyncrasies from our world and beyond to the big screen. We caught up with World Champion bodyboarder, Ben Player in between screenings to discuss the feature film of our first evening, Far North. As below.
A year on from the release of Far North. What are you up to now?
To be honest, my memories of Far North are distant memory for me, it seems like so long ago that the movie was released, which is weird, because it was only a year ago. Maybe my brain has done some post-trauma wiring to send those memories back or something as it was a pretty heavy thing that happened. Not sure, but it’s weird.
Maybe it feels like such a distant memory because I never really got the chance to have any downtime and reflection about the movie and the trip. I just kind of kept trucking on.
Shortly after I recovered from almost dying, I started editing the movie and also started a new business (distributing NMD Bodyboards I Australia) which I fully immersed myself in, and as a result I never really got the chance to get perspective and conclude the feelings and emotions from that trip. It all just morphed into normality.
Any desire to return to those waves?
Yes, 110%. I think I will always be attracted to challenging myself in those kind of waves. Maybe not so much the dry ledge we called ‘The Bull’, but the other waves. I wish I could actually move to the UK and spend my life chasing waves up there. All of my family is from there, and I will always be super attracted to it. When ever I return it feels a bit like home.
How important is the relationship between filmer and subject in situations like these?
That relationship is paramount. Firstly, because you’re always with each other on surf trips, especially when the weather is horrible like Scotland. And if you didn’t have a good relationship with the crew, everything will fall apart pretty quickly.When you’re a bunch of like minded guys who get along, you can get through any challenge or hardship as you support each other.
The other benefit to having a good relationship with your crew is the safety you have in numbers. There were some moments on the trip where things could have ended really bad if it wasn’t for the support from each other. I owe my life to Jack; when I was injured on the rocks at Riley’s, he put his safety second and ran up the cliff to get help and fell over many times as a result. I think he’s still got a chipped elbow from one of the falls he took.
On another occasion while on the trip, Nick Bannehr (photographer), Todd Barnes (Filmer) and myself had to swim about 2 kilometres out to sea to get in in a massive swell in Scotland. We were all shitting ourselves, but because of our friendship we stuck with each other and managed to get in. I guess what I am saying is, if and when the shit hits the fan, you want to have someone there that is prepared to go that extra length to help you.
Bodyboarding appears to command more and more respect in the line-up these days, particularly in waves of consequence. Where do you see it going from here? Any room in the Olympics?
Haha! I doubt it will ever get in the Olympics, but I wish it would. It is a great sport that is attractive at so many levels, but I doubt we will get the support of the Olympic committee unless Kelly Slater can make a mechanical slabbing wave that gets as big as 6-10ft that surfers can't ride. Personally, I think the the sports future is up to its participants. We don’t have any billionaires who are pushing the sport like the WSL; it is just the riders, and most riders are pretty determined on surfing some crazy waves as their skills increase, so I think it will continue steering in that direction for the time being.
After three world titles, Far North and numerous other exploits, are you left wanting more from bodyboarding or are you quite content?
Like I said before, I love a challenge. I love setting a big goal and dedicating my life to achieving it. I still have goals for surfing cold and isolated locations like Scotland, Ireland and Iceland and I think that is where the bulk of my motivations lie. I think surfing new locations, like the ones which are found in the North Atlantic, is the new frontier of surfing. I love the challenge of it, probably because the challenge isn’t just about surfing; the challenge also lies in the environment and weather. You feel incredibly alive when you challenge yourself and do it, and that sensation is the reason why I will continue coming back.