19 November 2012

Surf's Up

Written by Published in Art & Culture
Frosty in van at Scorpion Bay, September 2010 Frosty in van at Scorpion Bay, September 2010

‘Some people will always tell you that what you are trying to accomplish is impossible; those people have no idea what they’re talking about,’ says Frosty Hesson, surf legend and first-time author of Making Mavericks


As well as the book – co-authored by Frosty Hesson alongside Ian Spiegelman, Rick Hesson – a film titled Chasing Mavericks has just been released. It tells the life story of the surfing legend Frosty, played by Gerard Butler and his mentorship with Jay Moriarty, played by Johnny Weston, a then budding 12-year-old surfing novice who, like many suffers, planted their boards in the surf of Northern California’s’ Half Moon Bay, with an appetite for the towering waves of the notorious surf-spot ‘Mavericks’.

mavericks-final-hiresIn 1990s, Jay approached Frosty to train him to surf one of the most behemoth waves on Earth, the legendary Mavericks surf break near his home in Santa Cruz. It was Jay’s audacity that propelled Frosty to mentor him. Through his coaching, not only was a friendship created but raw courage and life lessons such as the importance of not letting the fear of others affect one’s success, were breathed into the heart of Jay, who became notorious for being one of the youngest, at only 16 to brave the 40ft waves of Mavericks. 

Since the young age of three Frosty, who was nicknamed that for his white as snow hair, was not only destined to do great things on land but also in the sea. It was growing up by the bay in San Francisco in the 1950’s that began Frosty’s connection with the ocean. ‘My parents were concerned because I had no fear of water.’ 

But it wasn’t just Frosty’s determination and loving relationship with water that made him a phenomenal surfer, but his ability from young to observe the world and to take lessons from every opportunity and every aspect of wonderment that he came across. He overcame the hardships of an at times tumultuous childhood burdened with financial troubles and riddled with a hard-drinking father and a chronically ill mother. 

Despite the adversities, the welcoming nature to others his parents created in the home along with his passion to help others, enriched his life and pushed him forwards towards a life spent surfing on the beach, chilling in his van and mentoring others in the value of not only being great surfers but great purpose-filled people who believing that anything and everything is possible. 


‘No one can live out someone else’s vision; it had to come from within you,’ he says in his book. He goes on to explain where the basis of his attitude about life came from by telling the story of the summer his parents took him and his siblings to the Mohave Desert where they came across an abandoned mining town from the 1800’s called Calico. In that ghost town one of the miners had built a house out of brown, green and clear wine bottles and mortar. Upon walking in, Frosty describes the impression it had on him to see the majesty that someone could build up from what others may have considered disposable. ‘It was just four walls and a brownish-gray weathered door, the grain raised from all the moisture being sucked from the wood by the heat, but when I stood staring through those walls long enough, they became the stained glass window of a church, and they became a kaleidoscope.’ It was in this moment that Frosty developed an understanding that life is all about which angle you look at it from saying, ‘Just because you don’t see what everybody sees it doesn’t invalidate your view.’

It was at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, California on December 19th, 1994 where Jay Moriarty paddled out to meet a 40fth wave, the biggest wave of the morning. Upon rising to his feet, the wind pushed his surfboard into the air and dropped him down five stories into the ocean which sucked him 40 feet underwater and while many thought he was dead, he walked away becoming an iconic surf star. Sadly, Jay’s life was cut short at the tender age of 21, when he drowned while free diving.

While Frosty may appear as a superhero, with a book and a film about himself and his experiences, at the end of the day, he is just a kind-hearted fellow human who stands as a role model for enduring spirit and willingness to give in order see others shine with great purpose.

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