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Haakenson: 'Chasing Mavericks' a surf movie like no other

Joe Surf

October 24, 2012|By Joe Haakenson

Hate to break this to you "Blue Crush" fans, but the best surfing movie ever made is about to hit theaters.

"Chasing Mavericks" will be released Friday, and it's bound to be a surf movie like no other. At least, that's what San Clemente native and big wave surfer Greg Long says.

Long worked as a consultant for the film and ultimately — albeit reluctantly — acted in it, as well. But in order to be involved in the project, Long was insistent that the movie reflected reality.

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Too many surf films produced by Hollywood are just plain cheesy and portray outdated stereotypes of surfers and surfing.

Peter Mel and Zach Wormhoudt worked alongside Long as consultants and provided powerful influence on the directors of the film, Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted.

"When test shooting began about three years ago at Mavericks, our first reaction was you can't go ahead with this unless it's done right," Long said in an interview with surfline.com. "What we meant by that is that we — meaning the entire surf community — know what Hollywood has done to most other surf movies in the past.

"There have been guys in bikinis doubling as women [Mickey Muñoz in 'Gidget,' and Noah Johnson in 'Blue Crush'], terrible projected backdrops [Tab Hunter and James Mitchum in 'Ride the Wild Surf'], and the switching from going left to going right [Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze in 'Point Break']."

"Chasing Mavericks" is the story of Jay Moriarity, a big-wave surfer who first surfed Mavericks at age 16 and was taken under the wing of local Mavericks legend Frosty Hesson. Moriarity died one day before his 23rd birthday on June 15, 2001, but it didn't happen surfing a big wave.

Moriarity was on the island of Lohifushi, one of the islands of the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, for a photo shoot with O'Neil. During a break, Moriarity went free diving alone and didn't return. His body was found that night, the victim of an apparent drowning.

Long, Mel and Wormhoudt initially had their doubts about the project.

"We questioned if we could actually make this film in a way that it maintained the integrity of Jay's story — a story that holds a strong place in a lot of people's hearts," Long said. "Plus we needed it to know that the image it would cast on big-wave surfing would be a positive one.

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