Below Deck Alum Laura Betancourt Defends Former Flame Ashton Pienaar; Says He Is “Regretful” For His Behavior Last Season

Ashton Pienaar gave Below Deck viewers two seasons of incredibly charged behavior and infamous moments.  As a deckhand, Ashton nearly lost his life after a mishap with tow lines. Last season Ashton was the misogynistic bosun who couldn’t apologize enough to Kate Chastain, Rhylee Gerber, and Captain Lee Rosbach.

Ashton did have some tender moments as well.  He often talked about “planting seeds,” which more times than not were fruitless attempts.   But Ashton did manage to hook up with Laura Betancourt in season 6 and the two remained friends after filming ended.

After the fallout from Ashton’s drunken rages and treatment of Kate, Laura wanted to speak up for her friend and also share her opinion on Kate’s departure from the show.  Laura interviewed via Facetime from Toronto for Bravo’s The Daily Dish.

Laura stressed that, though she and Ashton did not pursue a romantic relationship, they enjoyed each other’s company.  “I’m extremely independent, and I wouldn’t and didn’t plan on getting into a relationship with Ashton at the time,” she said, “I mean, just because you enjoy your time together with someone doesn’t mean that you have to make it official.”


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“My prerogative wasn’t to get into a relationship that year,” Laura continued, “we just finished filming, and I had all these great goals and dreams, and my travels were gonna take me all over the world and back again.  A boyfriend did not fit into that at all.”

Laura and Ashton keep in touch virtually, and only reconnected in person last summer in the Bahamas.  They talk, “every once in a while.”  So Laura stressed that she didn’t know what was going on with Ashton during filming last season.



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Watching the show was, “honestly kind of painful sometimes to watch.  It’s a little unfortunate,” Laura said of the tension between Ashton, Rhylee, and Kate.

Laura is looking for the positive in all this and hopes Ashton can use the experience to reflect and grow. “Sometimes things like that have to happen to us to learn from,” she explained, “lessons can be hard or they can be soft.  Sometimes we need a snap back into reality.  And everybody does.”



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Laura then addressed the social media crowd that reacted very harshly towards Ashton.  “People are super quick to judge who they see on TV, and it’s like, well, look in the mirror,” she said, “how would you act if you were under these circumstances?  Probably not any better.  So, let’s all remember we’re all just human.”

Though it’s hard to defend Ashton from the footage that was shown on TV, Laura insists that what she saw on the show doesn’t change her good opinion of her friend.  “I don’t know what he was going through at the time,” she said, “I’m gonna give everyone the benefit of the doubt.”


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Laura has a unique perspective on the situation as someone who got to know Ashton well and also lived the stressful lifestyle of yachting.  She said, “I just tried to play devil’s advocate there and not try to think, ‘Oh, he’s changed,’ or anything like that.  I was like, ‘OK, I wonder what he’s going through to act that way?'”

When Laura saw the backlash against Ashton, she reached out to ask if he was ok.  According to Laura, Ashton was humbled and remorseful.  “He seemed to take it really maturely and to feel badly about his actions,” Laura explained, “that’s the idea that I received.  That’s what I got from it.  So, I mean, I think that he felt really bad about everything.  And regretful.”


RELATED: Below Deck Star Captain Lee Rosbach Says Ashton Pienaar Ostracized & Alienated Rhylee Gerber To Prove A Point


It would have been interesting if Laura had been included in the last Below Deck season.  She may have been a buffer for Ashton and diffused a lot of the tension.  But who watches reality TV to watch an amicable cast?


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[Photo Credit: Bravo]