‘Chasing Mavericks’ surf-movie star pays visit to PLHS students
by Scott Hopkins
Oct 31, 2012 | 231107 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jonny Weston, star of the new film “Chasing Mavericks,” makes a point while speaking with members of the journalism class last week at Point Loma High School. The film tells the life story of legendary surfer Jay Moriarity.                         Photo by Scott Hopkins I The Beacon
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On a normal school day, the appearance of one more surfer on the Point Loma High School campus wouldn’t even be noticed by students.

But the surfer who turned up Oct.23 created quite a stir before ending his visit abruptly when a pack of adoring star-struck co-eds chased him from the school gym after an optional lunchtime pep rally.

“I got mobbed,” said Jonny Weston, 23, star of a new surfing film, later as he relaxed in a chair on an outside deck at the W Hotel in downtown San Diego after a series of press interviews.

For the record, Weston’s exit began soon after he answered a young lady’s question with three words:“I’m totally single.”

The nimble star beat a hasty retreat to a waiting SUV driven by members of the Fox 2000 Pictures promotions staff.

Was the young actor prepared for this?

“The assembly was a little more rowdy and the kids were kind of jacked up,” Weston said, “but it’s a surf-based community.”

Weston, 23, is making his first major film appearance in “Chasing Mavericks,” based on the true and inspirational story of late surfing legend Jay Moriarity.

Looking tan with rugged leading-man good looks, Weston showed the at-first skeptical group of teens he is no kook when it comes to exchanging surf lingo, and the Pointer surf team was quick to warm up to the non-local in their midst.

And Weston did almost all his own surfing in the film, noting filmmakers did not know about his surfing abilities when he was cast.

Hundreds of curious students showed up for the gathering, emceed by Pointer surf team co-captain Vicki Gonzalez.

Among the strongest messages in the uplifting movie is the deep real-life mentoring bond that formed when 15-year-old Moriarity approached his Santa Cruz neighbor, “Frosty” Hesson (co-star Gerard Butler), in an effort to surf the Mavericks surf spot. 

Hesson put his young protégé through grueling physical workouts and writing assignments to prepare him for the potentially deadly challenges of conquering the massive 40-foot waves, beautifully captured on film.

“We all have problems and situations in our lives where we could use the help of a mentor,” Weston told the teens. “I want to encourage each of you to reach out.”

A highlight of the event was a drawing for a surfboard matching the one used by Moriarity on his real-life first ride on a Mavericks monster. Weston drew a ticket held by surf team member Jordyn Valence, who confided he traded his original ticket for the winner.

Weston autographed the board for the beaming winner. 

“I was very flattered that so many kids were there,” Weston said, “because I know it was optional and they didn’t have to come. The campus was beautiful.” 

Before Weston reached the crowd, he received a crash course in the skills and reputation of PLHS surfers. His first stop was a “really special” interview videotaped by journalism students, where a collection of brilliantly colored trophies won by the surf team had been placed on a table next to Weston’s chair.

The actor took note. “Wow. Longboard, first place,” he read, while holding one.

Indeed, the Pointer campus was selected to host Weston’s promotional visit because of its top-ranked team of 31 boy and girl surfers currently riding the crest of county rankings.

Head coach Lou Ghio has run the team since the mid-1990s and, with assistant Julie Klein and PLHS athletic director John Murphy, have set up a program that builds strength through the school’s new weight room and yoga instruction. 

There’s no room for slackers because of study halls and tutoring.

Murphy points to several recent school valedictorians from the surf team, including Corten Singer (2012) and Josh Morse (2010, now a member of the nationally ranked San Diego State University surf team). And Gonzalez is a front-runner for the class of 2013 honor.

“I want to say that San Diego is one of the most beautiful towns and the people are some of the kindest, most real people I have ever been around,” Weston said. 

SURF NOTES

Later in the evening, Weston and about 120 Pointer students met again at a special free screening of the film in Mission Valley. Weston spoke to audience members and signed movie posters.

On 16-year-old Jay Moriarity’s first attempt at Mavericks (depicted in the film), he experienced a near-fatal wipeout captured in a famous cover photo on Surfer magazine.

Moriarity died June 15, 2001, the day before his 23rd birthday, while free-diving in Maldives, the smallest Asian country.

An annual “The Jay at Mavericks Big Wave Invitational” is now part of the Big Wave World Tour. Held at Mavericks between Nov. 1 and Mar. 1, invited contestants are notified 48 hours before the event to take advantage of maximum conditions.

“Frosty” challenged Jay with what he called “The 4 Pillars of Life Challenge,” consisting of mental, physical, emotional and spiritual areas. An interactive site (www.livelikejay.com) has been set up where people can test themselves. Tasks change weekly and there are prizes for those who conquer all four.

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