A 8 year old boy and a girl are on the cliffs, overlooking the ocean. She is playing with her dog, and he is mesmerized by the waves crashing, counting the seconds in between sets. The dog’s ball gets away and rolls down the cliff. The dog follows and is about to get swept away, but the little boy grabs it and throws it uphill, saving the dog. Before he can turn, the wave crashes over him and drags him out to sea. He struggles, and can’t get up with between the waves and the rocks, and just before he drowns, a hand pulls him out of the water. The man (Gerard Butler) lays the boy on his surfboard, and they ride together into the shore. He drives them home, scolding the boy for playing so close to the shore. He parks, a few doors up from the boy’s house. As the boy enters his house, we see his mom (Elizabeth Shue) asleep, with a bottle next to her. On the kitchen table is a letter addressed to “Jay”. He takes it, unopened, and puts it in his treasure box.
In the morning, Jay goes out to the shed behind his house while his Mom goes for a job interview. He finds an old surfboard and tries to fix it. He notices it has no skags, so he walks it up to the surfer guy’s house. His wife, Brenda (Abagail Spenser) tells him Frosty is out, but gives him the missing parts. He uses glue, then duct tape, and hits the beach. Not ever having surfed before, he struggles until another young kid says, “Hey, Blondie!” and offers him a few tips, but adds that no one ever gets up their first day…to which Jay paddles out, and then gets up, and surfs the wave in.
7 years later: Jay (Jonny Weston) is now a 15 year old, with a job at a local pizza place. He lives to surf, and goes out at night after work. He sketches waves and surf pictures in his room, and then hears a van starting up the street. Frosty and his 3 friends are loading surfboards, and he hops atop the van and stows away. They go to a point behind a locked chain gate that someone opens just for them. He watches in awe as they surf these amazing huge waves. The radio says the waves are 28’ swells, 17 seconds apart, and Jay has never seen such a thing before. Jay rides home with Frosty. Frosty explains that Maverick waves are like the Loch Ness Monstera myth, and they want to keep it that way. Jay tells him that he wants to surf that wave, But Frosty tells him he can’t-he is untrained. Jay wants to learn, and says he is getting stronger by the day, but Frosty says he isn’t strong enough. Frosty reminds him that it is one thing to be a great surfer with normal waves, but entirely something else to be able to handle a Maverick. If you fall, it is like hitting concrete at 50 mph, says Frosty. Jay insists he want to learn and asks Frosty to train him.
At home, Brenda counsels Frosty that there are all kinds of sons in the world; this boy needs him, and has looked up to him his entire life. Brenda adds that even if you don’t help him, he’ll still do it, or die trying.
Jay is working at the pizza place one night, when he hears a honking: Frosty is outside, and beckons him over. Frosty agrees to train Jay, as long as he gets a signed permission slip from his mom, and Jay agrees to no arguing. Frosty tells him that the conditions will only be right for the next 12 weeks, so that is all the time he has. He has to be able to paddle across the bay from Santa Cruz to Monterey which is 26 miles, PLUS be able to hold his breath for 4 minutes.
Next morning, the two head out. With big waves, Jay comments they won’t be able to paddle out. But Frosty challenges him to tryhe does, and gets shed back. Then Frosty teaches him to look, and noticethe waves by the rocks have a current that naturally carry out to sea like a conveyor belt; if he paddles there, he can make it out and conserve energy. His way, he only went out 30 yards and needs to be able to go ? mile. Then Frosty tells him that he needs to write a 3-page essay on The Power of Observation.
That night, Jay bumps into Kim (Leven Rambin), an older girl he has a crush on. They decide to sneak in to a closed local pool and swim. She likes him, but at school, doesn’t acknowledge him as he is younger and she is popular.
At home, Jay keeps his mom on track, getting her up for work with her uniform washed, and does push-ups and writes his essay. He writes his paper about Kim, and how he sees her. He turns it in over dinner at Frosty’s house. When Frosty sees it is about a girl and not surfing, he explodes. Brenda goes to talk to hi, and reminds him that he didn’t say it had to be about surfing, so Jay didn’t know his expectation…plus, he chose to write and share something very personal. Frosty goes back and tells Jay to redo it.
Jay hears the report that the waves are 25-30 ft., and he skips school to go see, an sees one of Frosty’s guys surfing by himself. HE does ok at first, then falls, and Jay doesn’t see him come up. Finally, he does, several minutes later, and Jay is relieved. At home, Mom comes in the bathroom and sees the tub full, but faucet dripping. She turns it off, and Jay pops up, startling her to death: he was under water, trying to extend his breath-holding time. Mom asks to borrow $15 for a traffic ticket; Jay takes it out of his treasure box, where he has been saving his $ for a weather radio like Frosty’s.
Brenda comes home in the afternoon, and Frost and Jay are working on redoing the cupboards in the kitchen; it is a surprise for Brenda. Clearly she is thrilled, and she tells them to carry on, and smiles.
Frosty picks Jay up the next day for surfing and hands back the redone essay, telling him that it is what he expected the 1st time, and “Good job, Chief”. While surfing, Frosty points out the obvious dangers of surfing near the huge rocks, and how to triangulate his position against the swells, so he won’t get thrown into “the boneyard”. They scuba dive below, and see how deep the reefs are, which cause such huge waves. A shark comes close and Jay panics. Frosty holds him in check until is swims away. He talks to Jay after, explaining the difference between fear, which is healthy, and panic, which will kill him when surfing. Frosty assigns that as Jay’s next essay.
In class, Jay passes out, and falls of his chair; he has been trying to extend the length of time he can hold his breath, and just before he passed out, we say he made a 3-minute tally mark.
The next time the two paddle out, Frosty asks if he knows why the water feels cooler; Jay tells him that it is because the Monterey trench is below them, adding that he has been reading books and maps, like Frosty asked, so he can cross the bay. Frosty is impressed. With El Nino, the waves will be stellar, like none they have seen in the past 7-10 years.
His essay is on the kitchen table, graded by Frosty as “Go deeper”. Jay is angry and refuses to rewrite it. He goes to tell Frosty, and while they are talking, Frosty’s daughter screams that something is wrong with Brendathey run in the house and Brenda is unconscious. They call 911, and say it appears she is having a stroke. At the funeral, Jay tries to talk to Frosty, but he is grief-stricken and asks him to leave. Frosty’s father-in-law offers to take the kids for a few day, so he can pull himself together. Jay stops by the house later to see Frosty with a pizza, and sees the front door ajarFrosty has destroyed all the new kitchen cabinets he built for Brenda. Jay looks in the shed, and old home videos are playing…and the longboard is missing. Jay grabs his, and begins the 26 mile trek across the bay, looking for Frosty. Finally, he sees Frosty, and now that they are more than 1/2way, they can keep going, and Jay has completed his training. In the local pool, Jay finally reaches the 4-minute mark for holding his breathhe fist pumps his excitement.
Early in the morning, Jay is surprised to see his Mom up and dressed for once, with breakfast cooking, a gift on the table, and she reminds him that it is his birthday. She got him the weather radio, after asking Frosty. She also pays him back the $15 she borrowed, saying that because of her promptness, she was made shift manager at work. They both smile and hug.
Frosty and his 3 surf buddies stand on the shore, watching huge waves pummel some surfer: it is Jay. Frosty needs the approval of his guys before they let Jay surf with them against the Maverick waves. They all agree he is ready.
Jay prepares all his surf gear, and it is laid out on his bed. He sees his treasure box, and finally opens the old, unread letter from his dad. Then he writes Frosty the essay on facing fear.
A Surf advisory is announced: 35’ waves are coming, and Jay gets the call from Frosty. It is not a myth, but real. Mom hugs him good bye and just wishes he will come home safely.
At the shore, Jay sees his girl, Kim: she feels silly, but she opens up and tells him that she has had a feeling since she was a little girl that he was THE ONE for her. They kiss, and he leaves. Frosty, his daughter, and Kim watch as Jay and the other 3 go to surf. The waves are massive, bigger than any of them have ever seen before. Frosty tells him that it doesn’t matter if he surfs or nothe loves him no matter what. Jay smiles, and then gives Frosty the revised essay he rewrote.
Jay paddles out and sees many surfers and boats chartered for newbie surfers. They get thrashed about, and many give up. Jay sees the set shifting and warns the other surfers to move. Some do, and some boats nearly capsize. He triangulates his position, watches, then takes a wave. He paddles, gets up, and is surfing for a few seconds, and then falls. His surfboard pops up, but not Jay. Frosty and Kim worry. Minute after minute goes by, and Frosty reassures Kim that as long as he can swim up the leash, he is ok. The leash breaks and the surfboard is free. Panic begins, and they realize it has been several minutes. Finally, a full 3+minutes later, Jay pops up and is ok. HE swims to a boat, which grabbed his surfboard. They try to pull him up, but he wants to surf and takes his board and goes back out.
Jay paddles back out, finds another wave and takes it. It is huge, nearly swallowing him, and yet he stays atop it. As it breaks into white foam, he is lost from view, and finally he is seen again, still surfing the wave, all the way into the shore. Frosty read his essay about fear, and Jay said that his biggest fear was never seeing his dad again, losing his mom, the love of his life Kim, and Frosty
Photographers from SURFER magazine got his picture, and from that day on, Jay Moriarty was famous, for a kid with Maverick courage. His photo was the cover picture, and he went on to be a world-class surfer, until he died diving in the Maldives, at age 22. He had married his childhood sweetheart, Kim, and they had been very happy.
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