World's 10th Most Popular Surfer Just Nabbed A New Sponsor - Stab Mag

LIVE NOW: FINALS DAY OF STAB HIGH PRESENTED BY MONSTER ENERGY

30 Views
If ever there was an image that captured the term 'Banzai!', this is it. Frame: Landon Hayashi

World’s 10th Most Popular Surfer Just Nabbed A New Sponsor

A collab that just makes sense.

news // May 13, 2022
Words by Michael Ciaramella
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Last year, South-African-born, Hawaii-residing Benji Brand finished T10 (alongside Craig Anderson) in our Stab Surfer of the Year Poll.

To elect our SSOTY winners, we asked 45 of the world’s most influential surfers a simple question: who produced the most memorable and impactful surfing this year?

The likes of Kelly Slater, John Florence, and Steph G provided their two cents, and we watched the numbers tally. The last 10% of votes went to our Stab Premium members, as they’ve proven themselves to be the most vigilant and informed audience in all of surfing.

After the foam had settled, we had a clear view of the most impactful surfers in 2021.

Benji Brand had never cracked the top-25 of SSOTY before last year, let alone the top-10. The fact that he now shares space alonside Craig Anderson, and sits atop names such as Noa Deane and Filipe Toledo, goes to show the impact his Snapt4 part had on the generally insular surfing community.

Hit play. It’s pre-timecoded for your convenience.

Benji didn’t win the $50k for Snapt4’s best part — the honor belongs to Jack Robinson and/or Barron Mamiya — but he did win the people’s choice award…and a cool $10k for the best barrel of the film. He wasted no time spending that money on a new boat, to pursue his other passion: spearfishing.

“I obviously use the boat for myself all the time, but I see it as an investment as well,” Benji said. “I’ll probably use it to do some tours — some Airbnb experiences, just take people snorkeling and stuff. Just to make a bit of money on the side.”

And he needed it. Benji’s been unsponsored for the better part of three years, meaning he’s paid for all of his recent surf ventures out of pocket — subsidized by odd-jobs, investment earnings, and one-off event wins.

“I got some random Wave of the Winter Awards, the GoPro of the World — those really helped with setting me off.”

Imagine surfing this wave. Then imagine getting paid for it.

Fortunately for Benji, he also happens to live between two of the most tube-rich regions of the world — Hawaii and South Africa. This helped his situation as a (genuine) freesurfer.

“I was born in South Africa,” Benji explained. “When I was around seven, my dad actually got a place in Hawaii, so I went to elementary school at Sunset Elementary on the North Shore. Then we went to South Africa for most of my high school. After high school was done, I came back to Hawaii because I still was super amped on surfing. And then I started chasing swells, and Namibia was happening around that time. So I would spend the Southern Hemi winters in South Africa and chase Namibia, then Northern Hemi winters in Hawaii. It was a pretty rad setup.”

Between Pipeline, Skelly Bay and beyond, Benji has asserted himself as one of the most fearsome tube wranglers on earth, but in today’s world, that’s not enough to earn a paycheck from most surf brands.

Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that Benji is not self-promotional (“I cringe every time I look at my face or hear my voice — I’m like, oh no.”), meaning you won’t see his Tik Tok or vlogging career kick off anytime soon. As a result, Benji would need to find a brand whose values (both cultural and financial) aligned with the South African’s lowkey if universally-revered approach to life.

Enter the surf and fishing lifestyle brand, Salty Crew, who just signed Benji head-to-toe.

Stoke-ed.

So how’d this deal come about?

“I actually approached one of the main guys, Jared,” Benji explained. “I was like, ‘I’m at a point in my career where I’m thinking about not trying to make a living off surfing, because it’s pretty hard.’ And I just threw it out there that I would really love to ride for their brand, because they’re the only brand doing what they’re doing and living the lifestyle I’m living.”

After talks with the rest of the squad, including longtime member CJ Hobgood, Salty Crew was convinced — Benji would bring a welcome dynamic to their team. They already had the wild air guy (Matt Meola), the comp machine (Levi Slawson), and the dude who rides everything (Lucas Dirske). With Benji, they secure the humble charger, a staple in any respectable surf brand’s roster.

Benji recently went on his first Salty Crew team trip to Costa Rica, where they (you guessed it) surfed and fished til their arms were sore. We’ll see the fruits of their labors soon.

Comments

Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up

Advertisement

Most Recent

Live Now: Finals Day At Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy

The freshwater feud for Pro, Ladybird, and Bottle Rocket champion starts now.

Jun 22, 2024

Albee Layer Reluctantly Escapes Sudden-Death Round On Final Wave Of The Day, Advances to Day 2 of Stab High Japan 

“I just want to do my fucking wave, and then go home”

Jun 22, 2024

“Relax, It’s A Surf Contest In A Swimming Pool”

Our attempt at an unbiased comp wrap from afar, on Day One of Stab High…

Jun 22, 2024

Rasta Robb Gutter Stomps Backside Full-Rote, Scores a 3/50

Why wasn’t the reigning champ rewarded in heat 1 of Stab High Japan?

Jun 22, 2024

Full Replay: Day 1 of Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy

Click to watch (or rewatch) today's Qualifier and Sudden Death rounds.

Jun 21, 2024

Everything You Need to Know About The Most ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ Wave in the Mentawais

Tips from longtime HTs devotee, Liam Turner.

Jun 21, 2024

“You’re An Elite Freesurfer, I’m Just A Vlogger, Surely You Can Take Me Out”

King of Waco calls out Aussie freesurfers on Stab High live stream.

Jun 21, 2024

Please Don’t Do A Superman At Stab High Japan, Presented By Monster Energy 

Breaking down the best and worst airs, according to the stats. 

Jun 20, 2024

355 Days Later, We Still Don’t Know What Elo Did In Brazil

But here's your 2024 Rio Pro preview.

Jun 20, 2024

JJF + Medina To Continue Rampages In Brazil?

12x CT event winner and previous SITD pilot Taj Burrow says 'yes'.

Jun 19, 2024

Allow Us To Introduce The YETI Ladybirds And Bottle Rockets Of Stab High Japan Presented By Monster Energy

Here's our schoolyard pick for teams; who will win the most cred at the lunch…

Jun 17, 2024

Prediction: Moving The WSL Finals To Fiji Will Kill Off Two More Surfing Superstars

Is this JJF's time to collect his titles? We checked the stats.

Jun 17, 2024

Confirmed: Fiji To Host 2025 WSL Finals

Cloudbreak will remain on tour until 2026.

Jun 17, 2024

What’s The Secret To Powersurfing?

Taylor Knox, Kyuss King, and Jessi Miley-Dyer tackle a trio of questions in our third…

Jun 16, 2024

How To Win Stab High Japan, Presented By Monster Energy

A statistical analysis of the 493 airs attempted in previous chlorinated editions.

Jun 16, 2024

Watch: An Intimate Portrait Of The Wave, Village, And People At The End Of The Road

Oxbow’s ‘Children of Teahupo’o’ is playing exclusively on Stab Premium for the next two weeks. 

Jun 15, 2024

Fuck It, Run The Entire CT In Indo

A historic beginning to the Indonesian dry season.

Jun 14, 2024

Ferrari Boyz: Holly Wawn

"I've had 4, 5, maybe 6 cars... I'm a car dealer I reckon."

Jun 13, 2024
Advertisement
JUNE 22 & 23
-2 Days
19 Hours
51 Minutes
6 Seconds
Join Stab Premium