Stab Magazine | Twenty-Six-Year-Old Santa Cruz Shaper Ben Kelly Killed In Shark Attack

Twenty-Six-Year-Old Santa Cruz Shaper Ben Kelly Killed In Shark Attack

“The type of shark species that attacked the victim is unknown.”

news // May 12, 2020
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

We’re saddened to hear of the death of Santa Cruz shaper Ben Kelly Saturday evening, when he was attacked by a shark while surfing at Manresa, a popular and rippable wave in Santa Cruz County.

He was 26. 

Kelly at his Santa Cruz shaping bay. Photo Baker Carrol/Instagram

According to the New York Times, Kelly “was about 100 yards from shore at Manresa State Beach near Santa Cruz when he was attacked around 1:30 p.m., the California Department of Parks and Recreation said on Sunday.”

According to the CalCalifornia State Parks, “The victim was pronounced dead on scene… The type of shark species that attacked the victim is unknown.”

While we weren’t acquainted with Kelly ourselves, countless friends considered him a dear friend. Kelly taught himself to shape growing up in Santa Cruz, and was having a healthy go at making a livelihood at it, building a wide range of boards for locals up and down Santa Cruz County. 

Kelly’s About page speaks volumes of the young shaper’s ethos and inspiration:

“Why do I shape surfboards?  Well… it’s something I’ve done since I was a kid.  A sort of escape from an overly-productive world to a simpler more creative space!  What  started as a way to fuel my own surfing passion has now become a way to stoke out my fellow surfers, and that is truly fulfilling to me. It’s the way I have found to give back to others. Thanks for all the support and love along the way!

I am a self-taught shaper bringing the core fundamentals of board building into a fresh new mindset and clean modern feel that works for you!   I love the process of creating: taking something raw and formless and making it into something both functional and aesthetic.  This involves working directly with surfers where they are at in their surfing journey and equipping them to take the next step.  

You should feel stoked each time you enter the water and comfortable on your own board. That is something worth investing in.”

Our thoughts go out to the Kelly Family and the surfing community in Santa Cruz. 

Kelly at a fickle Northern California wedge on one of its rare days. Photo by Baker Carrol/Instagram




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