Watch Below Deck Med for the Hot Kiwi But Keep Watching for His Excellent Management Style
No, seriously. Luka Brunton is gorgeous but he’s also such a great boss.
We’ve all had bad bosses, some worse than others, so we know how lucky we are when we come across a truly excellent one: someone who sings your praises, takes the time to figure out a problem, and keeps a level head. It also doesn’t hurt when they’re hot.
The season 8 finale of Below Deck Mediterranean airs tonight and I’m emotionally preparing myself to embark on a monthslong journey without my on-screen fix of international yachties and big-ass boats. Worst of all, I’ll have to go without this season’s lover boy, unofficial main character, deck team hero, bosun with the…most-un, and master in management: Luka “Daddy Bosun” Brunton.
When the Below Deck franchise first set sail on Bravo in 2013 with its titular installment, it was a breakout maritime hit, spawning four additional series each following the same basic premise: get a bunch of banging crew members together, have them work full-time aboard massive, floating-mansion megayachts in some of the most beautiful coastal locales, and film it. As it stands to reason, the show became somewhat of a sensation.
And from the moment I started watching the highly regarded (read: better) spinoff, Below Deck Med, my love for the sexcapades and outrageous antics of this especially mesmerizingly messy crew has grown into a full-blown obsession. Though I’ll admit it’s sometimes hard to watch grown adults behaving so poorly on air, I brush it aside for the sake of sweet, sweet escapism and my own masochistic pleasure. The bad behavior is, more often than not, just a snapshot of larger societal issues, such as rampant sexism and ego enlargement; suffice it to say, the men of the Below Deck multiverse are rarely up-to-snuff in terms of how they treat others. But, one expert seaman might just be the saving grace for the series, the species, and aspiring leaders everywhere, Aye aye, Daddy Bosun.
After making his first appearance on the franchise in the Australian spinoff, Below Deck Down Under, Luka Brunton, a 25-year-old New Zealand native, swept the hearts and panties of Below Deck fans everywhere. As one fan on Reddit put it: “God he’s so hot, he could kick me in the face and I’d say thank you.” But what sets this breezy maritime man apart, besides his swoon-worthy surfer-boy physique and charming personality, is that he’s exceptionally calm and poise under pressure. I would literally trust him to captain (erm, bosun) a sinking ship.
As anyone who’s taken a Leadership 101 class (or has ever worked anywhere) can attest, a good leader adapts to meet challenges and personalizes their management style to meet the needs of their people, regardless of their shortcomings; and that’s just what Brunton did with one especially irksome crew member. Early in the charter season, deckhand Max Salvador immediately pissed people off with his awful work ethic and unchecked energy. When Daddy, sorry, Brunton couldn’t get Salvador to respond to his feedback, he switched gears to more positive reinforcement, encouraging him for a job well done rather than criticizing him for getting things wrong. Though Salvador wasn’t the kind of worker Brunton needed to shape a strong deck team, he’s what he had, and Brunton made do, handling Salvador’s lack of focus and laziness in stride. In a testament to his unflappable cool and ability to pivot, Brunton barely broke a sweat on his salty, ripped bod…Sorry, but seriously, I took notes.
Since the snafu with Salvador, Brunton kept impressing us with his managerial instincts and how well he works with others in a professional setting. (You probably still think I’m joking, but I’m not, it’s impressive watching him manage!) When another member of his crew, Lara Du Preez, immediately showed up and showed out on deck by taking initiative, working swiftly and with passion (and clearly caring a lot about her job), Brunton quickly rewarded her efforts by promoting her to Lead Deckhand; not a necessary role, but an honor nonetheless. Recognizing outstanding work in tangible and measurable ways (I’ve learned!) is a surefire way to motivate those who work for you. Brunton leverages this tactic to his advantage, while also securing a highly competent second-in-command for the rest of the season, proving, once again, that our bright-eyed bosun is truly the full package: brains, brawn, and interpersonal prowess
While I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention his revolving-door love life, as an industry veteran and now an absolute mainstay in the series, Luka Brunton has set a new standard for the role of bosun on board. His quiet power, calm demeanor, and humble nature set him apart amidst the chronic ego-tripping, temper tantrums, and emotional tirades from former deckheads. As Season 8 comes to a close, it’s a welcome departure from the norm—and hopefully, a turning point for the quality of men Bravo selects for the future of the franchise