Live Like Jay

Reflections on the life of Jay Moriarity, 10 years after his untimely death

| posted on June 23, 2011

Jay Moriarity's iconic Mavericks drop on our May 1995 cover.

In the decade since Jay Moriarity’s tragic death, “Live Like Jay” has become to Santa Cruz what “Eddie Would Go” is to Oahu. The compact stickers are plastered on cars, street signs, and lampposts from Natural Bridges to Capitola. This Saturday, surfers from all over the world will paddle out in the Surftech Jay Race, a memorial paddleboard competition in Capitola. While the vast majority of those inspired by Jay never met him, several knew him well, both in and out of the water. This is what “Live Like Jay” means to them. —Steve Stampley

Peter Mel
“I grew up at Pleasure Point and remember when he first showed up. My first impression was, ‘Who does this kid think he is, being that happy? Something must be wrong with him.’ That was just not normal Santa Cruz. As a kid, you were taught to be really serious and protective of your space. It’s cliché to say now, but he had the ability to cut right through that. We bonded and became pretty close through the brotherhood of big-wave surfing. Jay was friendly and determined—exactly like everyone says he was. All those things that every man should have, he had from an early age. I definitely learned from him. ‘Live Like Jay,’ to me, is to persevere and to allow yourself to have that pure soul. It’s something that I had to develop that he just had naturally.”

Evan Slater
“Jay and I surfed Mavericks for the first time on the same day—April 1, 1994. We formed a friendship and I looked forward to surfing with him whenever we could. The day he got the cover shot, it was about 9 or 10 in the morning. The offshores were blowing, making it really difficult. Jay came out wild-eyed and carefree with that smirkish grin he always had. We saw the set coming in and everyone knew what was gonna happen. But Jay jumped out and paddled hard for it. You could hear the screams down the line when everyone realized he was going for it. As he went out, I shouted ‘Goodnight, Jay.’ He was under for a really long time. I actually took the next wave to look for him and that’s when he popped up on the inside. Jay always took the high road. It’s so easy to hang onto negatives, but he just made you want to be better. He was always looking for the good in people. After he died, I got one of the small round pins that said ‘Always Remember Jay Moriarity.’ I’ve kept it above me on the visor in whatever car I’ve had for 10 years. It’s a daily reminder.”

Flea Virostko
“Back then we were all living pretty hard. Jay showed up at Mavericks at 16 and he had a plan. It was cool to see someone so focused. We were charging and he was charging too, he was just more technical about it. When he got the cover shot, I was on the shoulder of that wave. I was like, ‘Fuck. He’s dead. There’s no way anyone could make that drop.’ But he had it in his mind that he was going to make the drop and get one on the bowl. The ‘Live Like Jay’ everywhere, to me it’s: Live a healthy lifestyle and be happy in life. And anyone can do that.”

Kim Moriarity
“People will forget what you say and do, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Jay touched so many people and he tried to leave everywhere he went just a little bit better. When people were around him, they felt the love and sincerity. Jay used to love to look for the gnarliest looking person he could find, make eye contact with them and smile. He came from a place of love in his heart and would use it to break down barriers with other people. ‘Live Like Jay’ doesn’t mean you have to be a tough, big-wave surfer. Jay knew that, even for him, that would eventually end. It means find out what you’re here for and follow it. Be true to yourself and treat others well.”

  • Mik

    I also had the good fortune to surf with Jay at Pleasure Point. And for sure, if Jay was in the pack, the pack was always a better place. His enthusiasm for surfing was radiant. We all still miss him.

  • Tom

    It was 12/23/1994. I was in Yosemite when I called my best friend to check in on the swell of the decade. He frantically ordered me to get back to SC because it was bigger than he had ever seen it. I drove back the next day and surfed Pleasure Point the best I had ever surfed it. It must have been Christmas day because there were only a couple guys on it. Aside from the size there was a dead calm and serenity in the water that day. I had heard the news about Mark’s death and was thinking about it between waves. I knew of Jay as one of the Pleasure Pt. kids as I was teaching 5th grade at Green Acres Elementary at the time. All the surfer kids idolized him. He was a great influence to them because they had a local hero that was a genuinely nice person. He was always a pleasure to have in the water. After a really good one I noticed Jay and I were the only two left out. We were trading waves on an outer reef I hadn’t seen break before. The best ones were A-framing way outside between Sewer Peak and First Peak. Jay didn’t seem his happy self and I didn’t make the connection of why. Being an outsider living in SC is a unique experience. For 10 years I was a “Tranny,” basically someone who didn’t go to grammar school through high school in SC. Jay had just taken a beautiful wave and it was my up. I waited for the biggest of the set and dropped in and then Jay spun around and dropped in on my intentionally burning me. It was a dangerous burn because it was big and we were both on guns. I paddled over to him and said, “That was kinda dangerous and unnecessary don’t you think?” He glared at me and burst into tears and ranted, “You don’t know what danger is!” I blew it off and paddled out with him side by side and waited for the next big wave. We both let several perfect waves pass. He was fuming and crying and hyperventilating. I then put it together. He was grieving and soul surfing with Mark. He looked at me and then apologized. He said, “I’m sorry. My best friend just died.” I solemnly replied, “Mark.” He looked down at his board and sobbed. He said, “Yes.” And then Jay’s true soul came out. He told me, “You’re a good surfer. Let surf.” We traded waves until my arms were noodles. I took one in and watched Jay surf till dark, perfectly gracefully dropping late gouging wide bottom turns relaxed, powerful and sure. As I watched his style I wondered, was he was channeling the grace of Mark Foo? I believe he wasn’t surfing alone that sunset. Mark was with him… soul surfing into the night.

    • shunda

      My name is Rashunda I never surf a day in my life and I cant swim much, I dont like the water unless its bath time. When I first place Chasing Maverick in the DVD, something kept on telling me to remove the movie, but for the life of me I couldnt take it out, by the time it went off I was in shock. I know nothing about Santa Cruz, or ever heard of Jay, looking at the previews for the movie just look like another kids getting in trouble. I was so very wrong. I have been speaking about Jay since the movie as if I knew him, I had to google this Jay person. I cried because of how humble, smart, and just a very very rare person of his age could leave so soon, I thought about all the time I have sinned and should have been gone, my attitude was all the way messed up, and here you have this HUMAN that is just the best. My son is 15 years of age we both talk about Jay aleast once a day. I wish I was more prepared for the movie and what happen, but I wouldnt change it for the world. I love Jay just for being the person he was and GOD as I say about my father came and got his homeboy and he is now resting and leaving such a positive view on how to look and take life. Thanks KIM

  • Case

    This is all so true. I also got to know Jay at the point. One time we were sitting out, waiting for a set, when I confided in him that after 20+ years of surfing shortboards, I had never ridden a longboard. Jay, who was on what I think was his favorite longboard, immediately unstrode his board and pushed it over to me: “Here’s your first,” he said. After pushing my board over to his in exchange, I had a great ride on the next set wave on his board, and he ripped the next one on mine.
    He was a giver with unshakable trust in people. And he ripped on any size wave or board.

  • vb

    I remember that smile standing next to me at the pizza counter where we worked. He had smile and personality that lit up the whole place.

  • There

    Some things we will never move past; nor should we….

  • AP

    What is immortality?

    When someone who you have never seen.. never talked to.. never met, can think of you..can mention you …can REMEMBER you, ten years after your death.

    …And I am just one

  • Robert Konen

    I remember my youth as a surfer in SC. I had my Big Wave day in 69. No body would go out they were to big. I said all that can happen is it will kill you. But you will remember this day forever. The pier was damaged that day from the white water breaking it. They put pictures on the railing of that pier to remember it. I will never forget those 3 waves I rode that day, I survived awsome days. But at Mavericks its every day, amazing surf. The unlucky ones that perish, they will never be forgotten.

  • john semon

    gifted surfer,special soul.

  • Ray.B

    Thx Jay I know your gone but hearing about you and the way you lived your life and believed in the good things in life an people, you have changed my life forever brother

  • Oliver

    I lost my best friend 2000 and i know how those people feel who wher friends with jay ive seen his film and i was really impressed everyone who knew this man
    knows what friendship means if all people would be like jay what a wonderful world would this planet be maybe many learn by seing this great film of a boy who really lived a good life rip and see you in heaven.

  • Crystal

    Dear Kim

    I dont think you will ever get this but i just want to say thank you for everything that you are doing thank you for keeping Jay’s name going so strong i cant even imagin how hard it must be to live with out Jay, reading all this messages i can only imagin what a great guy he was, i live in South Africa and the movie Chasing Mavericks just released at the movies and i was so inspired by this movie i know that this movie dose not even come close to describe what a great guy Jay was but what it means to me is that life is amazing and you only get one chance to live life to the best you can because life is so short it can be cone in a second so “Live Like Jay” inspired me to do the best i can with everything i do in life. thank you for being so strong and to encouraging others to do the same.

    kind regards

  • http://JayMoriarityFoundation Kimberly Moriarity


    I just want to thank you for your kind words sister.. it really means a lot to me. My goal has always been to carry Jay’s spirit on and to have the life Jay lived, continue to inspire and help others.. I hope to cross paths with you one day and I wish you all the best that Life has to offer.. So much love to you. Xx

  • Ray

    Hey guys do you know the Spongebob episode where SB and Patrick keep talking about living like Larry?? Living like Larry get it? And they are doing all kinds of dangerous things!! Spongebob is mocking Jay! I’m outraged!

  • Sven

    Hi Kim,

    just saw Chasing Mavericks for the second time. I am so impressed and really can feel, what a lovely and great guy Jay was. Especialy in nowadays, where all surfbreaks got suffered with localism and egoism, Jay did it always in the respective lovely and friendly way. He was and should still be a role model for modern surf culture.
    I have been in Santa Cruz now for two times and really felt the Jay-inspired spirit at the lane or the point. I have never been threatened and nobody yelled at me, even though I am a bodyboarder.

    Live like Jay faces me for full 100% – last year I lost my father in a car accident, way too sudden and early. That proved me, that life is short and you have to enjoy every second, even if they´re good or bad, which Jay always did.

    Much respect for your work and keeping Jay´s name in the line up all over the world.

    MAHALO !!
    Lots of love from germany
    Sven ***

  • Mike Sanchez

    Its a very very rare find when you come across a heart like this guy was blessed by God with. To be so strong in heart, soul, spirt, and mind with so much negitivatie in everyday life all around us. To hold strong and believe in what Jay seem to do so naturaly. He was an Angel sent down from heaven for 22 years to show us what really matters in life. Jay you were that person, you were that person sent to us for us to learn from and relize how to be, how to live, how to think, how to love, and how to understand, and you taught us and are still teaching us all till this day. You do this without haveing to do much but it comes out in such a powerful way! Words cant explain how you have changed my attitude about everything in life and I never even met you. Thats how powerfull your spirt is and will always be and Its should always be shared and told. “The Forever Ride” Jay Moriarity……

  • Lorem

    Hi Kim,

    I’m one of Jay’s fan, I’m from the Philippines, When I was in long beach back in 98′ I really wanna go to Santa Cruz and watch Jay surf, I also want to visit Mavericks at that year but unfortunately I didn’t. I surf here in the Philippines and Jay was one of the reason I surf.

    I’ve watched “Chasing Mavericks” a lot of times since November last year, also got a copy of it.

    Hope your doing well..

    Jay’s Fan,

  • Odair Renato Dantas Silva

    Eu nao tive a oportunidade de conhecer o jay pessoalmente,mas tive a oportunidade de conhece-lo gracas ao filme chasing mavericks,o jay foi mesmo um anjo que nos ensinou o que realmente importa na vida, exprimiu uma alegria contagiante e um amor que ultrapassa as fronteiras do universo,este sem duvida foi o seu maior acto de coragem,” live like jay” e mais que uma atitude mas um estilo de vida que vai para sempre em nossos coracoes.
    Obrigada Jay Moriarty

  • Odair Renato Dantas Silva

    i never had been the opportunity to know Jay, but he learned me who imports in the life, the true love to life and to the ocean with him contagious happiness and grace,Thank you so much Jay, you’re the best surfer in the world.
    God bless you.

  • matt

    jay died 43 days befor i was born toydays date 4/20/2013 time 2:33 am

  • http://Facebook Sanjaya

    Hey Kim,i started surfing because of Jay.?i’ll promise you that i will also gonna do what jay did.i’l get trained 2 surf Mavericks…….and be the world best surfer…im still 14 years?hope to me you kim?

  • http://Facebook Sanjaya

    Hey Kim,I’m 14 year of age.I started surfing when i was in 13 years old.I hope to live like Jay.Im gonna visit the Maveriks and be the best surfer inthe world..?Hope to see you soon Kim.I from SriLanka.

  • Juliette

    Hey! I’m 14 years old and I’m from France.
    I wanna say that, i love Jay, because he learned me the most important thing on this planet: the true love for life. I had a lot of sad moments in my life, and surf helped me, and Jay helped me too. And i just wanna say Thank you, thank you so much because i enjoy life now. Jay will always inspired me. And i’ll always try do to the best.
    I can’t stop watching “Chasing Mavericks”, love this movie, it’s always on replay x)
    Live Like Jay ♥

  • Lyes

    Hi, I’ve never surfed before since I grewup in Algeria and now living in Canada from many years ago where it is more eays to ice skating than to surfing 🙂 Anyway, watching the movie “Chasing mavericks” gave me more than an interest to surfing, I practice many sport activities but the “Live like Jay” is a motivation to develop abilities and become a better version of himself. Thank you all & don’t forgot to live intensely 🙂

  • Adri

    hi kim im 11 years old I just wanted to say live like jay is the thing I live by and that jay is my nickname because of that and I want to be just like jay. a surfing legend but everyone says its impossible since im just a kid from Lil Rhody I don’t believe them I always say live like jay

  • Marsi

    I think Jay, in all his modesty and innocence, did not even once believe he would be so famous even in his wildest dreams. What’s more, I don’t even think he put it as his objective to become such a big surfing celebrity bathed in worldwide fame. But I know one thing, he has not drawn all the attention for his surf techniques or close-death encounters. On the contrary, it was his positive view of life which appeals to many of us, because somehow Jay found out the formulae of happiness. Believe it or not, most of us aspire to discover it one day, but Jay Moriarity was able to discover the formulae at a very early age- he was barely in his 16teens or so when he finally understood the enigma we are used to calling life. I am more than delighted to have had the chance to be introduced to this astonishing person. Moreover, I would like to believe he helped me form a better perspective of who I am and who I want to become. For the people who mourn over Jay, and claim it is a shame he died so young, are pointlessly using up energy. If Jay were alive today, he would smile, smile and tell them to live to the fullest. Drawing to a close after pouring out my emotions, I guess I want to lastly mention I think Jay just had lived his life. Virtually, he had accomplished his plans, ain’t it so ? This guy was just in a rush the whole time, I reckon he had no patience to catch up with life, so he basically accelerated the pace and made life catch up with.

    Peace out, Jay.

  • Surfer Girl 7

    Hi I’m Sydney and I’ve been surfing since I could walk and when ever I go surfing its nothing but boys and they all look at me like she is a girl she doesn’t belong hear, but when they see me catch a wave they treat me like one of them! And I always tell all the surfers…. Live Like Jay!!!!

    • chewy777

      Thats grear !

  • Nelson L Rogoza

    Jay is and will continue to be an inspiration to people from all walks of life and of all age groups. Thank you for sharing how to Live Like Jay it’s a lesson that can benefit everyone…and the movie has made me reflect upon and reconsider my priorities in life and I’m much happier for it!!

  • Rhonda

    My late husband was a surfer. He died at the age of 32 from melanoma. We have three boys (who were ages 1,3, and 6 at the time of his passing) who are now (13, 15 and 18). Darren proposed to me on the beach at Mavericks and we buried his ashes out at sea near mavericks. He talked of Jay (but unfortunately I didn’t have a consciousness to the connection at the time). My boys and I went and saw the movie when it came out and it gave me chills to see so much of the same energy of Jay and his life and attitude in my late husbands and my oldest son. (My other two boys are amazing people too, but in different ways 😉 … I think Jay’s ‘energy’ definitely lives on. He changed lives. He is still changing lives. God Bless You.

  • Frank Collette

    Hi Kim, I’m a 50yrs old surfer from Piha Beach in New Zealand. I just finished watching Chasing Mavericks, and really enjoyed the film for its emotional and ethical delineations. I also grew up in a difficult family with erratic parenting, drugs and alcohol, and found solace in the water from these problems. I too had a killer smile for most of my life [even though life has presented many recent difficulties] also Jay and I could be seen as brothers, both visually and ethically.

    Its great that this movie has allowed Jay to keep touching those around him in such a profound and deep way. He has been immortalised and lives on

    ‘Angel’ is a word that come to mind, I’m sure he is happy where he is.

  • Sydney

    Sadly, it’s true only the good die young. Just saw the movie ‘Chasing Mavericks” and loved it; should have gotten more notoriety than it did because it really had substance and was a great movie. It wasn’t just a surfer movie but a movie about life and how to live it. Jay was a wonderful human being and a great surfer. I’m not a surfer (rock-climber) but I love the water and did try my feet surfing at Santa Cruz and wiped out pretty bad against some rocks, still so glad I gave it a try, makes me appreciate all those surfers out there. Also used to go to Mavericks and watch the surfers when the huge waves/swells came long before it was popular, it wasn’t closed off back then. We could all learn a life lesson from Jay. RIP

  • JackSS

    how do I purchase a copy of this magazine?

  • RainingBlood561

    Although I am not really a surfer, I am associated with quite a few kids who are and Jay is a huge inspiration for them. It was them, in fact, who gave me a copy of “Chasing mavericks”. I didn’t take the movie at face value the first time I saw it, so I researched Jay and came to the conclusion that the movie really didn’t even give him the justice he deserved.
    It’s clear that he was an exceptional young man and although Heaven may have suddenly become more fun, we here on Earth are surely a little bit darker.
    Keep the spirit alive and God Bless…..

  • Anthony McDonald

    RIP JAY but honestly why did one year before whilst I was waiting hoping to comp in Nias Pro title wave came through,
    The next Day under gunned I a 8′”6 Peter Mcabe Trade gun shaper Ask Lopez

    Surfing flat rock Newcastle Harbour Mereweather when no one else ventured ah especially backhand disjointed your pull out the OUTLAWED guise Yes I practised free diving to 4 equalises but read the magazine again you put my pressure on his younger proper management?!!

    Jay passed and phamtoned me when u cfos lied Jay was top young lots of balls not the skills of my master instructor stats. Shame
    I challenge and dammed answers anyone