Skip to main content

Forging a Maverick

In the early 2000’s I trained a young surfer by the name of Jay Moriarity. Jay was respected by the shortboard and longboard crowd alike. In many ways he was often the glue that kept both types of surfers from biting the heads off of one another. He surfed all types of boards including the big wave “guns.” He and his mentor, Rick “Frosty” Hesson trained on the water in all sorts of conditions. They trained Jay’s mental fortitude and breath holding ability for surfing the gigantic waves at the big wave spot just north of Santa Cruz in Half Moon Bay known as Mavericks. Typical winter swell will create waves in the 20-40ft range. However, some waves have been measured up to 100 feet high! Regardless of the size, Jay was in his element. 

He came to see me for some gym time and we focused on getting him in the proper condition to tackle the next big wave season. Sadly, Jay died in a free diving accident in the Maldives just a day before his 23rd birthday. The surf community was devastated with his loss. His memory still lives on with a long distance paddle race every June in Santa Cruz. There was a full feature film titled “Chasing Mavericks” that was produced a few years back. A book titled, “Making Mavericks” was written by Frosty and went a bit deeper in understanding who Jay was and the impact he had on the world of surfing and Santa Cruz in general. Many people have been affected by Jay, his joie de vie, and the impact he had on local surfers.

One surfer in particular, my son Jack, seems to have been heavily influenced by Jay and what he represented. Jack is 15 years old and was born after Jay passing. Nonetheless, he has been intrigued by Jay and his life’s path, regardless of how short it was. I do not know how many times has watched the movie or read the book or gone to YouTube and watched big wave surfing.

Jack got into surfing at the age of 9. I would take him to gentle surf spots until he was ready for bigger and more advanced conditions. Here we are six years later and Jack has followed in Jay’s footsteps by prone peddling 28.5 miles across Monterey Bay when he was 14. He surfs boards of all shapes and sizes of boards and competes in surf competitions up and down the California coast. He is respected by his peers (short boarders & long boarders). He has taken apnea clinics where he learns proper breath holding and how to break the panic cycle that comes in when air gets too low. He has spent the past couple of years charging the biggest waves in Santa Cruz whenever the chance comes.

Last week he reached a landmark in his goal setting and achieving. He and a couple of friends went up to Half Moon Bay and paddled out at Mavericks. The waves were perfect for his first experience. He was exhilarated and humbled all at once. He gave respect to Mother Nature and she seemed to reciprocate in kind. I am so impressed by his ability to set a goal and see it through. This is by no means the end to his goal achieving but it sure did impress me. Check out his first wave CLICK HERE. You may be equally impressed. 

There is a saying in Santa Cruz. “Live like Jay!” I know one person who has made that a reality. Now my mantra is “Live like Jack!”