In 1975, in the small town of Half Moon Bay, California a lone surfer was poised on the beach between the forested coastline and the deserted ocean, about to make surf history. Jeff Clark dropped his surfboard into the ice cold water and paddled toward the spot known as Mavericks for the very first time A place surrounded by myth and speculation. Some denied the existence of Mavericks altogether. Big waves weren’t believed to exist outside of Hawaii, while those who saw them were certain the waves were too dangerous for any human to surf. But all that was about to change. Half Moon Bay’s surf pioneer would eventually shift the world’s spotlight to the phenomenal waves of Mavericks thus changing our understanding of the California coastline and the course of surf history, forever. Lives have been touched and transformed here. In some cases they have been taken. The surf legends of Mavericks were all called to this place for a reason. Curiosity. Adventure. Ego. To know God. To be a part of nature. Each surfer came out changed in different ways but it wasn’t just the wave that changed them. Long after the feeling of riding the waves had faded away, it was their friendships that remained.
Their memories of those they grew to know and love, and those they lost along the way. Located just 25 miles south of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, Mavericks has been recognized by the surf community as the ultimate wave, but it has taken decades to achieve that title. Named in the early 1960s after Maverick the dog who swam after his caretakers as they tried to surf the area, the dog was safely rescued but, having only reached about a quarter mile off shore, the surfers spotted the break about two miles farther out and deemed the area too dangerous to surf. Mavericks was left untouched for over a decade until Jeff Clark moved to town. Today, Mavericks is referred to as one of the most awe-inspiring waves in the world. Hollywood just wrapped up a twenty million dollar movie about the young Mavericks surfer, Jay Moriarity, whose genuine enthusiasm for life and riding the waves of Mavericks was unparalleled in his time. Key day of filming in the surfing movie “Of Men and Mavericks” The Jay Moriarity Story Honored to be a part of it in any small way to help recognize what Mavericks is all about.
What Jay was all about Hopefully gromits and grandkids will see what it was like during this period in time. We were representing sort of the original guard of guys surfing Mavericks, the Mavericks pioneers so we were kind of a blend of like Richard Schmidt, Vince Collier, Jeff Clark, Tom Powers, Charlie Heitman. All the guys that were the first guys surfing up there. Many local surfers have been used as extras in the film. Today was their big day. One thousand strong, these local surfers hit the ocean hit the the ocean near Pleasure Point. I see the whole community coming together in Jay’s name and this is perfect. Mixed in among the maze of boards and colorful wetsuits, is Jay’s widow, Kim. She thanked the crowd for supporting her husband and asked them to live their lives to the fullest, the way Jay did. I know Jay’s here looking over us. His spirit lives on in each one of your smiles, your laughs, and every time you treat each other good. And you guys be safe out there today please have fun and live like Jay. Thank You, Love You. I came across this story you know and it’s a beautiful story it’s kind of inspiring.
You know this guy lived an incredible life. You read it, you know, I want to want to be involved with that. I always wanted to learn to surf so here I am, and I’m surfing now. While filming a scene one of the lead actors, Gerard Butler, playing Jay’s neighbor and surf mentor, almost drowned in the ferocious waves after a two-wave hold down. Butler is not an experienced surfer and had not surfed much prior to the filming of the movie.
You know, filmmakers were working on a shot of Gerard Butler paddling out at the local big wave spot with local surfer named Peter Mel when a round of rogue wave caught them. These waves came out of nowhere and I’m with three of the best surfers in the world and they’re just going, “paddle Jay, paddle!” and I’m paddling on my board this just, wave, spread across the skylight and it came and it was about thirty feet high and I just dived in and it took me. And I was under, and I’m thinking, you get to that stage where you’re like, ‘ugh! I got to get out, I gotta get out’ and it ripped my leash off so I knew, you know, there was nothing to pull me up, I’m just tumbling tumbling tumbling tumbling tumbling, going going, and I’m thinking, I need to get up, I need to get up, and then I felt the next wave go and it all started all over again and I’m like – Oh my God.
Wow. When he made it to the surface, he was rescued by seasoned Mavericks surfers Peter Mel and Zack Warmhout. Butler spent the night in the hospital but recovered quickly and although shaken by the experience, was relatively unharmed. True story of Mavericks is, way heavier than any Hollywood movie could imagine, and it’s a really critical story that will be told. Another event shining the spotlight on Mavericks the Mavericks surf contest held annually, conditions permitting in the winter’s biggest surf. Riding the giant waves of Mavericks can be dangerous even for the most talented of surfers, right? But today, the monster waves proved just as dangerous for people there just to watch. Take a look at this. At least three huge waves washed onshore knocking dozens of people down and sending others running for safety. In a shocking moment in surf contest history, a rogue wave wiped out the contest’s scaffolding, tossing several alarmed spectators into the sea. This only added to the notoriety of Mavericks. Today, the performance level of big wave surfing has never been higher.
Professional athletes who make their living surfing big waves focus their attention on Mavericks every time it breaks, pushing boundaries and bringing an upcoming generation of surfers to new heights. Surfers like Grant Twiggy Baker, Mark Heeley, Nathan Fletcher, and Shane Dorian are dramatically influencing the sport. There are unique geographical reasons why the wave at Mavericks is so thrilling, deadly, and unlike any other. These huge storms, they either come off Japan or Alaska, and they generate so much speed and and they’re coming from deep water and then they hit Pillar Point, which goes up to like a twenty foot shelf – twenty foot deep from like hundreds of feet deep.
from like hundreds of feet deep. So a lot of the water just comes out of the deep water and just hits that one spot and it’s just this big perfect double up, and, the swells hit so perfect there. You know, every single swell, it picks up something up, you know, so it’s just a special place. It sits on a very deep channel and any time you ever have big waves in the world generally off the coast it has a really deep canyon in the water and so what that does is it focuses swell onto a shallow reef and then that’s what makes it so special too is that it doesn’t take any of the energy. If you were to have if you were to go just north of Mavericks, there’s a really flat bed that goes just into San Francisco and it’s kind of shallow, and there’s not really any big waves north of there.
But as soon as you get off that shelf and it comes into Mavericks it’s like there’s a fault that runs off right there so there’s this big deep crevice that runs off there. The other part that’s unique about the wave is the way the reef is shaped. So the swells come in from the northwest and it hits the shallow reef and it jumps up but they’ve got these deep, rutted fingers that run off so the wave will lift and lift and lift. But it’s in the Red Triangle, which means that the Red Triangle is one of the hot spots on the planet for Great White sharks.
Great White sharks are protected in the marine sanctuary at Mavericks and the population has exploded in recent years. In 1991 there’s shark attacks a mile above it and a mile below it, brutal ones. One of ‘em was a guy I don’t know but his name was Eric Larson from over the hill, basically he, basically almost bought the farm. I think he ended up with about four hundred stitches. And then another friend of mine, John Ferrara got hit at a reef that you hike into and basically there’s you know only a handful of guys out about five guys and he’s paddling out with two of his friends and got hit so that’s way on my radar way more on my radar. On the inside, and when, if you wipe out, like, it happens super often, like almost every time you have a session there you get blown through these rocks so you can go through this cheese grater of rocks that water that just goes in and spills into this lagoon so you’ve got rocks, sharks, massive amounts of water-cold water too-and that’s another part of it I mean the water in the wintertime ranges from 52 to 54 degrees so you’re wearing all this rubber you’ve got booties and gloves and hoods and I mean all that and you know Hawaii you get to wear just board shorts.
It’s hard to fathom the idea of surfing Mavericks by yourself, but for over a decade, that is just what Jeff Clark did. Jeff Clark’s pretty gnarly I mean straight up, he’s gnarly. I mean the guy has been surfing out there for so long and to even contemplate surfing out there by yourself for one session, let alone a decade plus. Grow up in Half Moon Bay you know with so with the ocean as my playground. My family moved here in ’66 and to grow up in the ocean to, to see how quickly the ocean can change how violent it is and how quickly a ripple will pull you off shore and you, either learned how to deal with a rip or you drowned.
Blessed to have uh, have Mavericks and have the natural pull the ocean had on me was amazing. I would do almost anything to go surfing. From the very first time I paddled out at Mavericks I jumped through the reef, paddled through the reef to deep water and then paddled in from the north. Because we’d always looked at Mavericks from the north side and it was this big, beautiful left. And that’s what I surfed. I surfed the left. And once it got so big or or the tide got so low you couldn’t make the drop on the lefts they were just you know pipelining it at forty feet, fifty feet, and if the tide was too low it just displaced the water just too quickly. The ocean is alive the ocean’s got no conscience as well.
It’s a special place and it used to be a place I would go to be by myself. I do like being by myself more than downtown city anytime. I got used to being out in the ocean by myself and I knew how to take care of myself out in the ocean and if I had to swim in I, I wasn’t afraid of swimming in. I have swam in many times from out there. Being in the ocean by yourself a half a mile off shore you, you have to have a peace within yourself about where you are I would have loved to have had somebody out there in the water with me to share what an insane place we have to surf here. It’s a very special place and I treat it with a great deal of respect You know everything, you know all the hype and the this and the that I surf Mavericks for fun. I think there’s always something within us that you know surf big waves that we want to push it to the next level and, you know Mavericks will let you do that.
If you get the right one man, you are riding the biggest wave you’ve ever seen and, you know that is the exciting and really fun part about Mavericks but if you’re not in-tuned with it and you’re just bringing the wrong attitude to the table it’ll light you up if you try and force it. You can do more things in the ocean if you learn to dance with it and listen to it its behavior and be receptive to or be open to allow the impossible to happen and be free.
I mean for me it’s freedom when I’m in the ocean I feel like I’m you know twelve years old kid playing in the water, for me it’s the most free thing you know I always try to treat it like that. Just turn me loose and let me free and you know if you’re on a wave you’re flying.
People just didn’t believe me it’s, it’s like okay and I’d try and talk to them to go and go and you know finally it’s like you know what? You don’t wanna go, okay you don’t wanna go. I’m going. In the 1970s, there was an actively growing surf scene in Santa Cruz, California, a gritty surf town located fifty miles south of Half Moon Bay. On days when the surf conditions were just right Jeff would head to Santa Cruz to surf describing the waves he was riding at Mavericks to his fellow surfers.
Jeff eventually introduced a handful of his closest friends from Santa Cruz to Mavericks but it wasn’t easy. Although first met with skepticism a few Santa Cruz surfers finally chose to venture to new territory, with Jeff as their leader. One of the first to be introduced to Mavericks, Tom Powers. Awe. Exhilaration. Fear. You know there’s so many, so many different emotions that, that run through you and especially a place like Mavericks evokes all those emotions. You know I don’t know that I would be surfing a place like Mavericks all by myself so my hats off to Jeff for doing it all the years that he did. We didn’t even know what we had. It was-our minds were blowing as far as, we never realized anyting like that existed right in our back yard. Fate you know, helped fate plays its part like i said I could have very very been easily been born in Des Moines Iowa and never been by the ocean my whole life and you know hopefully I’d have a good life and be doing something fun and gratifying and you know have a fulfilling life but, but damn you know I couldn’t imagine, I couldn’t imagine a life without surfing and the ocean and I’m grateful to have the ocean right here you know as as my, as my temple so to speak and what a wonderful wonderful flow of energy and, and stoke you know it gives us and I call it my fountain of youth man and you know I’m still super stoked at 57 I hope to be surfing, hope to be surfing until I’m, you know until the day I die.
we love surfing the big waves, there’s a handful of us. My inspirations and mentors, they’re really hard chargers. In the 1970s on the California coast the popularity of surfing and surf culture was growing. Santa Cruz was a town filled with innovators who were pushing the boundaries of surf performance, like Jack O’Neill. The ocean is alive and we’ve got to take care of it. It belongs to all of us. I think surfing has been like a therapy. I used to work downtown and get all screwed up and come out and jump in the ocean, catch a wave and everything’s, everything’s all right again. It was invigorating. It wasn’t crowded and you came out of the water and you, you knew you’d been in you had a good feeling. We used to build fires on the beach, you know a bunch of old guys hanging out. The up and coming Schmidt brothers from Santa Cruz, California were at the top of their game.
The up and coming Schmidt brothers were passionate big wave surfers who would travel all the way to Hawaii’s Waimea Bay on the north shore of Oahu to surf. Unbeknownst to them as they were traveling over 2,000 miles to Hawaii, Mavericks was alive and pumping just an hour’s drive from their home town, the exact type of wave they were seeking. The ancient Hawaiians made Waimea Bay a holy place and today these sacred waves ar worshipped by a handful of highly motivated water men. In the spirit of aloha, the Hawaiians always greeted the quiet Santa Cruz surfer Richard Schmidt with open arms. They respected his surfing ability in navigating the big waves, thus forging a bond between the surf communities of northern California and Hawaii that has lasted even to this day.
Big wave surfing had its birth in Hawaii and historically Hawaiians have always been considered the world’s best big wave riders. And yet they all have one thing in common. These guys possess more raw courage than any athlete on earth. Is it courage or insanity that would entice these surfers to challenge these waves? To win you must successfully ride the biggest wave and put in the day’s gutsiest performance.
That was a big wave, that was no doubt about it. That was a big wave. Named after Eddie Aikau, the Hawaiian lifeguard who lost his life trying to save others, the event pays homage to the collective courage and calmness in the face of danger that all big wave riders are respected for. For Richard Schmidt, surfing the Eddie was the biggest honor of his career. He placed third overall in the contest. The year they had the Eddie Aikau in really big surf was probably about the most incredible day of surfing in my life just to be with that elite group of surfers in those big, beautiful perfect waves was incredible and the the skill level I mean there really weren’t that many bad wipe outs I mean there were a couple but for the most part people were just surfing so well out there. And it was pretty much how you want Waimea to be you don’t want it much bigger than that it was like as big as it could handle and nice conditions.
And it just I remember surfing out there all day and just having this incredible session. Uh, the one big perfect one I got where they gave me a perfect score was just insane I remember seeing it cap way on the outer reef that set and so I had about a minute to prepare myself like “okay, this is this is a big wave, if you want it, here it comes.” And I just put myself just in the corner of the apex of the peak right in the apex I think I woulda got pitched so I kinda just snuck in. No one ever dreamed a wave in California could be as good a Waimea, but Richard Schmidt’s brother Dave and Tom Powers were about to finally discover Mavericks for the first time.
Their first surf session would change their lives, and the story of Mavericks, forever. Dave Schmidt and I were on our way up to a pretty well known reef point break in northern California a couple hundred miles north of San Francisco. Got a couple days off of work and we’re cruising up, it was um happened to be the day after Richie Schmidt got third in the Eddie Akau. We’re on our way up and when we get to San Francisco, pull over and check out Ocean Beach and it’s just absolutely macking. The camaraderie and friendships you know that, that I forged and you know I’m very grateful for. And I’m driving up the coast and I look at the swell and I just go “wow it’s gigantic.” And I went down to Ocean Beach and and there’s Tom Powers and Dave Schmidt and, and Doc’s standing there also and you know we’re looking at thirty foot walls of water. 20 to thirty foot walls of water I mean huge close outs and Doc’s going “yeah, let’s, let’s go out down at the other end I’m looking at this stuff and I’m like, “really? These are close out man where are you gonna go? How are you gonna get out?” And uh, and I said “You guys should come with me.
I’ll show you a wave that takes all this power and makes a perfect peak out of it.” They looked at me like I was completely like I was from Mars you know, completely out of my mind and I go, “really, a wave you can get out next to and approach and pick the one you want and it’s and it’s a paddle out that you can you don’t have to paddle through waves like these twenty foot wall walled out close-outs. And Dave’s going “really? No way. Really?” I go “yeah, really,” and they just went “okay, we’ll, we’ll follow you down there.” We check it from, from the Rosta’s Cove side and you know up by the radar installation you’re not really supposed to be up there.
You know there wasn’t a set right so Dave’s like seeing waves break over here “is that it? is that it? is that it? is that it?” you know I wasn’t going to let on till, till i saw an actual big wave break and finally here comes a set and I go, “hey Dave, see that peak out behind the point there?” and he goes, “no way that’s Waimea.” You know, you know you’re looking from the north side, you see this big old plume blow up and then he starts pacing back and forth and I go “what’s going on?” and he goes “we’re going out there,” and he’s just pacing back and forth, he knows we’re going out there. He was nervous, and, and but excited at the same time and not you know like “let’s go check this out” and you know there weren’t any twenty foot waves in California so this will be easy Basically, we paddled out, you know through the harbor, and around, I don’t know what they call it is it Mushroom Rock or Sail Rock? To the first big one and then, you know just the visuals you know Dave and I are looking at each other as we’re getting closer to the line up it’s a long ass paddle out you know you’re looking at a good, you know a good fifteen solid minute paddle out if not longer, and by the time we get around the rock and you’re actually out there you know you’re paddling over the small you know eight or ten foot waves.
Just the roar, the energy, just amazing I mean Dave and I were looking at each other just completely dumbfounded like, “are you kidding me?” You know, getting over, getting over the ledge physically getting over the ledge, you know having to paddle hard and go over it and then also mentally getting over the ledge just to get yourself, to get yourself to paddle into a wave like that really, I don’t know what it is.
For me it’s always been terrifying surfing Mavericks but exhilarating it took me, oh God, an hour to catch my first wave and the sensation of taking off on the first wave at Mavericks, never experienced anything like that. It felt like skiing because there was, I’d never had a sensation where you’re going as far, traveling as far down on a wave before hitting flats and turning. And I got a left, and, you know, rode it, kicked out and paddled back out and across the bowl to the right side where they were andmet ‘em out at the peak and started asking ‘em “what do you think?” and you know they’re like “where do you line up?” and you know it’s always, I started figuring out my line-ups for them and showing them where to sit and it was big and the swell was growing growing and the tide was dropping yet out into the line-up and, and I just spin and I go on this wave and, and I make the drop and then I go over the double up and the double up just it was glassy and it was huge I got going so fast I hit a bump and my front foot bounced forward right so I had the super-wide stance and I I needed to get a turn off and I tried to turn with my foot way and there was no way so I went down up and over broke my leash and uh, I had to start swimming so I swim into the rocks and get right to Mushroom Rock and the current’s just ripping through there and at that point is when you know you do everything you can to find your board looking into the rocks and, and I remember into the cove to see if it was in there and looking south and not being able to see it anywhere and I just paused for a minute you know, just said to myself, you know “where’s my board?” you know just, I just let the spirit guide me.
I just started swimming the current south to open ocean open water and south around the reef and after I swam I got into deeper wate inside the break zone and then about a hundred yards away I saw my board floating over there and I remember Dave going, “where ya been?” This was, this was groundbreaking. You know here I got a couple guys out to surf Mavericks I’d been trying to get somebody out there to surf with me for years. A whole new cast would be joining Jeff Clark at Mavericks. This was just the start. When it got big and gnarly, like that next winter, Vince, he’d be out there in the pit with me and Rich and I remember one day Vince wasn’t around but it was just Rich and I in the bowl and it was heavy.
A little offshore winds over twenty foot sets rolling through Flea wasn’t up to it yet. Pete was just learning it, I mean this was the early days. We kind of looked up to guys Richard and Vince probably had, what is it probably had like five or ten years on us you know so they were that perfect next step up as far as who you looked at and you’re always looking at the older guys especially if you’re from Santa Cruz that’s how it works you know there’s a hierarchy and you look to those are the guys who are getting the best waves.
They’re the ones who are going to get the waves in the lineup when they’re surfing at the lane or up north at Scotts or wherever they were going to be the ones that you looked at and you looked at their styles and you took it into your, into what you wanted to do for your surfing you know, they were, they were the guys. A little bit of all those guys and then applied it to our surfing and then now there’s a generation underneath us doing the same thing you know Nat Young, to whoever, whatever that’s how it worked. We all looked at each other, we used each other as a group, as a peer group, to push each other on a day to day basis. We looked at our hierarchy, like our mentors, the drafting styles of the guys we looked up to, a guy like Vince Collier and Richard Schmidt. Vince Collier was the brash, raw, kind of, you know a very raw approach whereas Richard Schmidt took a more relaxed and calculated effort, he was mapping it all out. Whereas Vince just went out and and did it and that’s how Flea did it.
He went out and put himself and did it, you know, and I was just kind of going, “yeah okay that’s where I think the spot’s going to work so I’m going to go sit over here and I’m going to line this up and like it took a little bit more of a calculated approach. Two different styles. you know and then combine them and then you’d have a pretty good big wave rider. I wasn’t really even expecting to find waves like that in California you know and they were, you know they told us oh there’s this huge huge wave come out north with us and finally when I got there I was in such amazement I couldn’t believe that we surfing these waves seeing these waves breaking, it was the most radical thing I’ve ever seen They sound like thunder and they fold in half and they, they spit like no other, like the biggest barrel you’ll ever see you, could drive a huge bus through it and it just spits just water out just boom boom! you’re just going what? It’s crazy like Niagara Falls or something, the amount of water that’s moving out there is just unbelievable it’s really cool to see nature in its big fury like that you know after each storm to see nature and where it actually comes out of the deep water and just folds in half and releases all of that energy it’s a feeling you’ll never, you’ll never see anywhere else.
Weather and Bouy Readings – “Coudy with haze wind north at seven, air pressure thirty point two one this report will be updated around seven thirty am Flea’s as talented as anyone when he rides big waves he gets respect because he charges hard and When you’re talented and you catch alot of waves and you charge and he gets a lot of respect because he’s a talented big wave rider.
It’s just super exciting because, it was a timing thing with me, Peter Mel, all of us young guys that were surfing out really good timing because we just found out about it when I was in my prime you know I was just coming into my prime of just being physically fit and stuff like that and psyched on surfing and with sponsors and everything like that so it was it was such a great timing thing and we were just hungry hungry, hungry to surf and we surfed every day with each other and we just pushed each other completely. If it’s two feet, we were doing airs and rotations and if it was 25 feet we were pushing each other in the bowl. And especially with Peter Mel. Me and Pete were just like, we didn’t want to say it like “oh, we’re going against each other out there,” but it was, it was apparent every single session. We wanted to out do each each other and you know sometimes he got denied, sometimes I got denied, but it made it so much more he probably got me into more waves than he can imagine he did because he was, he was, going on waves before me and I was like, “fuck, I’m going to whip it and go,” and pulling it off.
It was a time that I cherish a lot because, that was when I could really use a friend like Flea and he could use me to push each other to limits that we didn’t know existed we were at Mavericks especially because we were on every swell and Skindog too and you know all those guys were all there but like Flea and I at that point we were going head to head and it was an exciting time and he would catch a big one and I would want to get a bigger one and then he would get a bigger one and then he would get a bigger one and then oh he’d pull in and then oh he’s pulled in, I’ve gotta pull in you know and it’s like we were getting photos that way too and it was kind of it’s like we were getting photos that way too and it was kind of it’s a a good way to feed the ego I mean really if you look back on it that’s what it was we were just ego-ing out but it’s had to do to ride those kinds of waves.
You really had to kind do to ride those kinds of waves. You really kind of had to kind of have that self-confidence in a lot of it and a lot of it was fed off of each other and the energy that we gained off of that I cherish that a lot. Nowadays I’m a different human than I used to be back then. But I look back and it was a special time.
It was 1994 and the glow of Mavericks had reached the Hawaiian islands. More and more big wave surfers were traveling to Half Moon Bay. It was only a matter of time before tragedy would strike. A group of Hawaiians led by Mark Foo were coming over to challenge Mavericks on oneof the best swells in surfing history. The Mavericks surf community was buzzing. Jeff Clark was like a proud father. At that time, the repercussions of saying that we had twenty foot waves in California, if you said that in Hawaii they would have laughed at you but as you know now, things have changed and now, you know, it’s obvious You can’t deny the obvious and Mavericks holds a candle to any wave in the world.
The surf paparazzi were foaming at the mouth to get pictures of the celebrities. This is footage from that historic day, shot by surf that historic day, shot by surf photographer Steven Spaulding. You know, I was out in the water with Foo I go “so Mark what do you think?” And he goes, “I never thought it was this good a wave.” And, um, he was really stoked you know and I was so stokked because this was the first time that, you know, they had, you know, Mark had come. To have Foo be stoked on the surf spot and the and he got probably a handful of waves and surfed them really well and I think there, you know, he took the red eye over here got a little, he was tired, exhausted, but the, the rush of surfing a new wave like Mavericks and how good it was and, you know you can amp up to meet the challenge but then you you kind of conquer it a little bit and you get comfortable.
Big wave surfing went though the roof. That’s really when Mavericks got put on the map, that swell. Ended up getting this one wave where I rode through the inside pulled up in the inside and then Doug Action started shooting out of this one boat and I ended up getting a picture that made the cover of Surfing Magazine it was my first cover of Surfing Magazine so I walked out of there getting barreled getting spit out of a barrel at Mavericks it was, like, amazing.
Driving home that afternoon I actually saw Foo, like high-fived Foo, going “yeah it’s so sick out here, insane, yeah,” and ended up driving home. I get home and I get a call from Loya and Loya’s all, “dude.” Before anyone had died you’re not, probably as cognizant into keeping tabs on your friends and what they’re doing where they’re doing you know and somebody’s chord could snap easily where they’d have to swim in so that’s a tough thing and you know there’s a lot of water moving and you’re out there in a huge playing field too it’s like multiple football fields the whole zone from the inside to the very outside so it would be very easy to lose track of someone.
And like you said it could could be for a pretty innocuous reason I mean basically like a chord snapping and someone having to do a long swim to get in so you know I could see how it would be easy to miss someone out there and um, not having anyone die yet I think uh probably not as heightened of a level of awareness you know as you would have now you know, if someone now I think they’re keeping a lot heavier or a lot better tabs on people that are getting drilled and you know looking to see that they’re going to pop up in the white water inside and you know that’s where, that’s where a jet ski would come in real handy to come in and basically swoop someone out before they get into the rocks. “You cannot believe it but Mark Foo passed away.” and I’m like, “what? No way.” I mean Mark Foo was the guy that basically did everything he surfed Todo Santos, he surfed Waimea, he surfed the outer reefs, like, invincible. He was invincible and he had just been killed by a wave at Mavericks.
Like, just was devastating I remember that night As soon as that happened, that afternoon got kinda stormy weird and then all of a sudden, you know, it just shut down. Rainy, the rest of the season was done. So that week right there started with the wipeout of Jay ended with Mark Foo’s death, amazing week of surfing unfortunately had to have the passing of Mark Foo but it also showed how crazy and gnarly this wave was at Mavericks.
So that’s how he kind of lived and he was also a professional big wave rider and he surfed at Waimea he was a competitor at the Eddie Aikau event which is the elite big wave Quicksilver sponsors and it’s in a memory of Eddie Aikau so he was a part of that he was one of the guys who rode big waves and being from Hawaii that’s what he did. he was one of the guys that actually took big wave riding out of Hawaii he’d come to Todo Santos which is an island off of Mexico that has big waves as well and he’d come and he’d surf that all the time when the swells were up so it was just second nature for for him to come and visit. It was a pretty inconsistent swell.
There was a set that came, Mark Foo and Ken Bradshaw were paddling Mark actually had the in road he was more towards the channel When he stood up the wave kind of lurched and when I I was describing the way the wave works it gets these big ruts in the wave so sometimes it will lurch and it will back off and it will lurch again and that’s kind of what happened is it lurched a little bit it wasn’t a real super sized wave but it like kind of backed off for a second and that’s what allowed Mark to get the in road and then it lifted again and right when he stood up it lifted he kind of poked the nose of his board when he was dropping it dug the nose of his board and he fell kind of face first.
And he fell he kind of went, “mmm.” on his neck and everything could have knocked the air out of his chest it was kind of an awkward kind of landing, the wave wasn’t gigantic. The problem was was that that wave, when he got it he lurched, hit got sucked over because every time you get if you don’t penetrate you know sometimes you’ll penetrate and you’ll get through the back but this one he didn’t penetrate so he got sucked in the lip and you see him and he kind of goes over the falls and what happens in that wave is that his board breaks, he’s only got a little piece of his tail left, and, the way the bottom is shaped out there they they have these kind of undertows and you have these things called you know like I said underwater full undertow so he got held down. He didn’t really have a board to show him where up was because he only had this really teeny piece of his tail left so he was held down and on the next wave, which was a bigger wave was Brock Little and um Mike Parsons. Mike Parsons was deeper Brock Little was a little bit further and they take off on the same wave and they’re both too deep and the wave breaks and it just blows them up and they both kind of get blown up. Parsons, he eats it on that wave and when he’s underwater, he hits somebody.
He knows that he hits somebody and he, guaranteed he hit Mark Foo. You felt him bumping under the wave? I felt him bump, I felt something come up under me, you know when I came up after the wipe-out it was him, he was still, he was still under. He came up after the next wave I’m pretty sure. And then we were tangled together just getting ping-ponged through the rocks. You never know, if you fall a little bit, one way or another if it’s too far that way or too far the next you never know. So. I don’t surf Mavericks anymore I’ve moved on I have a kid now and that was a really good time in my life I know how dangerous it is you know and you gotta be totally totally at the top of your game out there and I probably not at at the top of my game since I’m forty, now I’m just enjoying surfing now, fun-sized waves.
I surf big waves still but I’ve definitely had my times at Mavericks where I really thought that that was it you know um, my leash got caught on the rocks and basically just thinking God just a couple more waves and I’m gonna die. Just you got to pay attention to everybody in the line up and make sure that you account them one way or the other even if they’ve had a pretty normal wipe which is what Foo’s looked like it didn’t look like a super nasty wipe out but any wipeout at Mavericks can be your last. The next monumental shift in surfing progression hit Mavericks with the speed and power of a two-stroke engine. Surfers wanted to ride the biggest waves of Mavericks. Waves that were too big to paddle into and were going unridden.
They harnessed the power of the jet ski and formed teams to tow each other into the biggest waves ever ridden. Tow surfing allowed them to go places on the wave that had never been ridden before. But the tow era was short-lived. Due to Mavericks being located in a marine sanctuary tow surfing was outlawed. I look back on it and it was a special time. This historical session was one of the last of its kind. You will never see this type of surfing at Mavericks again.
Tow surfing was something that we had borrowed from a crew over in Maui. Laird, Dave Kalama, the strap crew, they all were doing it already and we just took what they were doing and brought brought it to Mavericks. Fear either stops you in your tracks and you don’t go forward or it motivates you to go to the next level and that’s pretty much what it did for me. I’m not really afraid of anything. Those days the fun was just amazing and if you’d go out there in the early mornings, but when the winds were blowing offshore and you really couldn’t get into the waves paddling and you’d ride these waves with these shorter boards and I loved the fact you could kind of come from behind it and backdoor it like because you had all this speed that you’d carried you’d just slingshot your way into the peak. Or from behind the peak you’d kind of load up underneath underneath it and set it up just like a wave at Stockton Avenue or something like these little teeny waves that would just expand into this thirty-five foot face.
The neatest thing about tow surfing is the fact that you get to ride this equipment that you would never normally ride on big waves and we were able to experiment and ride these boards that were super short. A new breed of Mavericks surfer was starting to evolve. A younger surfer, who was looking up to his mentors and poised to make the next leap in surfing progression. One of those surfers was Jay Moriarity. A lot of guys surf big waves with eyes like this and fear. Jay would drop into these things with the biggest smile on his face. As he’s taking this late drop his eyes aren’t like this, he’s got the big smile.
He loved it. He probably loved it more than anybody. And I think ultimately that’s what got him in trouble. He showed up in the line up and he’s just this smiling, all teeth, starry-eyed, and you’re kind of almost kind of in a way kind of like, “woah, like, this kid’s so happy that, it kind of almost like turns me off in a way you know and you’re like, how could somebody be that happy and be so nice to everybody and because that’s not how Santa Cruz was. Santa Cruz was always guarded and tough guy ou know you didn’t, that’s how I was brought up you didn’t, you weren’t, open arms to everybody. I’ve learned a different way Jay had that at a early age I’ve learned a lot from him.
We paddled out at Pleasure Point one day and the first peak was there and first peak at the time during this year, this season first peak at Pleasure Point was real who’s there who are you attitude. It was just the, you could cut the atmosphere with a knife, the pressure with a knife. It was thick. And I’d paddle out there and I hate that attitude.You gotta be careful what they say careful what they do and just a lot of barking it’s ready to explode.
And all of a sudden Jay’s paddling this way and I’m paddling this way and I’m just making out and I said some sort of uncool statement loud. I looked at Jay, and Jay looked at me, and I figured he’d go “oh, shhhh,” kinda like this, just like keep it you know? And I had a big smiley face and he turned around, and reciprocated, with something equally as loud as, as obnoxious as, you know just a statement. You know, “boy surfing is great, isn’t it? Aren’t we having fun out here? It’s great to see everybody,” you know, something like this, and he did too. And first the guys looked at me, then they looked at Jay, and things just mellowed out But I was blown away that Jay, as young as he was, and how much he thought of these guys, who they were and everything, how he would say such a thing to put himself in a place where they may dislike him or think less of him.
I was blown away he had the, the maturity to do that. He shows up at Mavericks and he starts going off out there like he literally showed up and had the boards and the confidence and went out there and was in the bowl taking off One of his first sessions he, he takes this huge wave. People cheering, wave sounds Jeff Clark remembers his all-time favorite tow session with Jay Moriarity.
He shows up at the dock at the launcher one day and he goes “what’s that?” and I go, “it’s gonna be fun.” It’s as good as it gets. Anything is possible ‘cause it was just gaping barrels. Jay and I were doing no hands barrel riding completely gone, disappearing and coming out the end, and he was one of the best surfers to ever surf Mavericks. He was able to put me right in the place where I needed to be I took off on this wave and, I let go of the rope too soon, and I tried to hop over the ledge and get down, I couldn’t get so I turn out of the wave and my feet are stuck in the strap and I reach down to the board and I fall over and tumble over and he comes driving in and goes, “what are you doing?” and he’s laughing and there’s a thirty foot wave about ready to break on our head and he knows how long he can just sit there and the wave’s standing up and throwing and he hasn’t even hit the throttle yet until he goes, “hey, hold on we gotta go.” And I’m either on or I’m not and he’s, he’s out.
Just calm in the face of what some people would think is just terrifying fear. Jay’s passion for the ocean translated into a new sport addiction: free diving. Here he could not only be close to nature but also push the levels of his personal training. Jay loved free diving because it increased his connection with the underwater world. Here, he could be at peace. Jay asked Tom Powers to become his free diving mentor. He reached out to the, the elderly state men you know like Frosty to say “hey I want to do this can you, can you help show me the way?” Which is, is pretty cool. I started taking Jay out on a regular basis. You know, first time he ever got a lingcod. or halibut I was with him, he was really really stoked kind of like me just as stoked on spear fishing and free diving as as he was surfing Mavericks. You know he got his first white sea bass actually the month before he died. You know super, super super duper bummed you know and then I felt a little bit of of responsibility for not having the shallow water blackout talk and you basically, you know you want to make sure you’re diving within your limits.
Ultimately, and none of us do this but we should, is diving with a buddy. You know in a perfect world you’d be doing one up, one down while one guy’s on the surface breathing up the other guy goes down but you know what happens we end up spreading out looking for fish in different areas and disconnecting. Never seen Jay snap on anyone in the water you know and, and things get heated sometimes you know for for whatever reason, right or wrong but it happens and Jay had nothing but a great attitude and good positive vibes you know making sure that you know you’re not all by yourself.
Jay was free diving in the Maldives when he went missing. You know the Maldives is some of the best diving in the world it’s the most clearest water in the world so he was at this one dive spot and there was a couple of other guys there too that were actually free diving and so they could dive down to the bottom, it’s super deep, and then hang out on the bottom and he was down there timing and he, he was trying to hold his breath as long as he could.
The error that he made was the fact that he wasn’t with people and like well he was earlier but they all had kind of left, and then he was there by himself and he went for one last dive what happened was that he was supposed to show up for dinner when he didn’t show up for dinner there was a couple people were like “oh, when I saw him last he was over there diving,” so they all ended up going to that spot and then they saw his towel and his stuff and like they ended up doing a full search and you know they went straight to the bottom like they basically started diving for him and they found him at the bottom.
and he was sitting just in peace. His watch was beeping, just “beep beep beep beep beep beep beep,” you know and it was a couple hours later probably and he was just sitting there, still as can be. But you know they call it a shallow water dark blackout or basically what I think happens is you get to a certain point when you hold your breath for so long that it gets beautiful. At a certain point where you can just it’s actually really nice to be there. And I think he just wanted to stay there. And he did. I was going to meet you know everybody up at the funeral home and I got there before everybody and uh, they said, “who are you here to see?” and I said, “Jay,” and he goes “oh I’ll bring him out for you.” So I’m in the chapel, and there’s Jay.
It was just him and I in the and he was there in front of me and I was on my knees and I was praying and just I held onto his hand and just cried. Because it was going to be the last time I’d I’ve ever met ever, and I got to sit and be with one of the most favorite people I’ve ever met I got to say goodbye to him I guess the greatest thing that I could do moving forward was try to remember how Jay was and you know the example he set at such an early age of kindness and joy and it seemed that everywhere he went he left it a better place and if we could all do that this whole world would be a better place wouldn’t it? I just couldn’t believe it.
There’s just no way that that could have happened to that guy. Because that guy was one of the ones that trained hard and ate well and took care of himself and did everything right. How could, how could something like that happen to him? It’s supposed to happen to the guys who don’t take care of themselves and you know so, um, so I was in shock um, and it was hard to believe, it really was hard to believe um I had to, it really kinda sank in when we did the paddle out for Jay I came back from the trip and they did a paddle out for him. When there was 500 people I mean maybe even more I don’t even know but like I’ve never seen a paddle out like that and still to this day I’ve never seen a paddle out where the whole entire community came out.
Guys were paddling from the west side all the way to the east side. That’s you know that’s a good four mile five mile paddle like Flea and all his crew they all paddled from the lane you know and just this huge gigantic circle and that’s really when I was like wow, it’s true you know like he did touch that many people. And he was gone. Which in hindsight he really isn’t gone because we all now remember him for that same smile that same starry blue eyes that same love of passion for life that you know that’s that you can hold onto that now. I can hold onto that. Forever. And in the end the wave never changed. But the people did. .