Written by: Emily Bates
Jay Moriarity was an athlete with a contagious spirit and fearless demeanor who encompassed the meaning of both slightly insane big wave enthusiast, and aloha. The true story and incredible life of big wave charger, Jay Moriarity, is portrayed by actor Jonny Weston in Fox Entertainment’s new film, Chasing Mavericks.
It’s no surprise Hollywood took to this story – were it not for Moriarity’s raw passion for surfing or the real dangers of challenging mother nature’s untamed beasts. Mavericks also happens to be one of the world’s largest waves that many professional surfers prefer to avoid.
The movie is now in theaters across the nation, big waves on the big screen. It is sure to give mainstream audiences evermore respect for brave surfers willing to put their life on the line. Here’s some history behind the legend and star of the film.
The young phenom was raised near the cold waters of Santa Cruz and quickly took to the sport of surfing at age 11. Jay Moriarity’s passion for big wave surfing began during an NSSA competition where he was the only 12-year old to make it out to the double overhead sets to win the competition. It wasn’t too long after that Moriarity discovered the monstrous break called Mavericks near his hometown of Santa Cruz, California and instantly pictured a challenge worth pursuing. He called upon local legend, Frosty Hesson to train Moriarity, both physically and mentally, to endure the vicious wrath of the unforgiving conditions. From there on out, Moriarity perfected all of his waterman skills in longboarding, swimming, diving, paddling and fishing.
He was a rare, well-rounded surfer, able and willing to use varying equipment. At age 16, Moriarity began making a name for himself in the world of surfing by ironically making the cover of Surfer Magazine with one of the worst wipeouts caught on film. After the brutal annihilation of a gigantic Mavericks wave, the young dare devil didn’t waste a second and paddled back out into the lineup to catch a few more waves before coming in.
It was his determination that set Moeiarity apart from other professionals and inspired an entire community of surfers. He then teamed up with the man who discovered Maverick’s surfing potential, Jeff Clark. The two adventurers took turns towing each other into the massive sets, looking out for one another along the way. Jay Moriarity quickly became an icon within his community through his big wave pursuits. Many looked highly upon the soul surfer as he embodied a uniquely humble spirit that was incomparable to the aggressive nature of the line up.
In 2001, only 22-years-old, the local hero traveled to the Maldives and tragically passed away in a diving accident. Family, friends and community members gathered to celebrate the incredible life of Jay Moriarity, making it obvious that he would never be forgotten.
The true story and incredible life of big wave charger, Jay Moriarity, is portrayed by Gerard Butler in Fox Entertainment’s new film, Chasing Mavericks. Surfers are naturally skeptical when Hollywood produces a film with their own perspective on the sport and culture, so we took the time to discover what the critics are saying about the film. Most importantly, we wanted to know what surfers thought about the waves hitting Hollywood. as well as professional big wave surfer, Greg Long.
“I think the imagery that was captured out there was incredible. Big waves have never been seen or documented on that type of camera equipment before or those angles and other than a couple of documentaries, it rare to really present the story of the mental preparation and challenges and the physical preparation and challenges that big wave surfers are forced to endure. That said, I think it’s going to shed a lot of light on the sport of big wave surfing and surfing in general.” Professional Big Wave Surfer, Greg Long with The Inertia
“Chasing Mavericks… trained its glossy, big-budget Hollywood lens on the surfing culture and did something unheard of: it got it right.” San Jose Mercury News
“The surfers and the surfing, along with the natural beauty of the California coastline, help balance the movie’s weak areas, including its lamentably one-dimensional protagonist.” New York Times
“Chasing Mavericks manages to sufficiently overcome the obstacles with admittedly affecting results.” Hollywood Reporter
“Chasing Mavericks moves as fast as a runner in waist-high water and wears out its welcome.” San Francisco Chronicle
“Chasing Mavericks is made with more care and intelligence than many another film starting with its template might have been. It’s better than most movies targeted at teens. And the cinematography of the big Mavericks scene by Oliver Euclid and Bill Pope is so frightening that you sort of understand why Frosty stays on the shore, watching Jay with binoculars.” – Chicago Sun Times
“Come for the surfing. Stay for the sainthood.” Boston Globe
Go check out the film for yourself! Chasing Mavericks DVD is out on the racks on February 26th!
One of the big wave surfers with a big role in the film is Santa Cruz’s own Peter Mel. The true champion of Mavericks won the 2013 Mavericks Invitational presented by GoPro: