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Interview with Frosty Hesson (Part 1)

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LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 18: Surfer Frosty Hesson arrives to the premiere of 20th Century Fox's 'Chasing Mavericks' on October 18, 2012 in Los Angeles, California.
Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images
In 1990, Richard “Frosty” Hesson took a 12 year-old Jay Moriarty under his wing and helped him become a big wave icon. With decades of big waves and travel under his belt, Frosty used both his experience as a surfer and as a coach to draw out the best in in the young surf star who would meet an untimely end at the age of 23 while free-diving in the Maldives. Moriarty’s promise and vitality cut short makes its way to the big screen in the upcoming feature film Chasing Mavericks in which the “character” of Frosty Hesson is played by Gerard Butler. However, you can meet the real Frosty in his forthcoming memoir Making Mavericks in which the life-long surfer and coach recounts his turbulent childhood of in the 1950’s, time as a college athlete, and experiences at Waimea and Mavericks as well as the strategies and life perspective that helped the 16-year-old Moriarty become a surfing legend. I had the chance to speak to Hesson just prior to the release of his book and film.

First off, I’m stoked to contact you and congrats on the book and movie. I have had a chance to get to know some guys from the Half Moon Bay area and they all turned out to be both great surfers and really great people. They all tell of a special local scene in Santa Cruz. What is it about the area that is so special?

You ask about our area being special. I just accept our area and the people here as the way we expect and want it to be. We live in a somewhat isolated area. The Bay Area is just over the hill, the hustle and bustle of city life, busy and expanding. It is quieter and slower here. The area seems to have attracted like minded folks, slower, maybe more personable, creative, artsy and adventuresome.

I continue living what I learned from my parents, being welcoming and interested as are my neighbors. There are a lot of fascinating and active people in Santa Cruz doing many interesting, diverse things.

Now that the Mavericks juggernaut has reached critical mass under the intensity of the media (magazines, movies, etc), how has your relationship with the wave changed. Or has it? What place does surfing have in your life today?

Surfing has moved up on the priority list. I was able to take time to be involved with the movie making process. Incredible, I met so many wonderful people, cast and crew. And was able to surf last season when there were waves and smaller things were happening on set. I tried to be on set at least 3 or 4 times a week. I would get updates on the daily shooting schedule and look at those every morning to see if I was going want to be on-set that day. I wanted to let the cast and crew know this mattered to me and I cared. It was important. But I am a surfer so I did take a few surf days. I was also writing the book with Ian. It was not all easy. I was able to take some time this summer to surf, travel and write. We completed the book. I spent some time with the Paraguayan National Surf Team, coaching. After Jay's passing I just did not find the joy at Mav's I once had. Too many memories. My kids were getting older and needed more of my time and I was in a new relationship. Times changed. I was there at a very unique and special time and was given an unbelievable opportunity. I believed I used that time well, both for Jay and the movie.

Mavericks is, just is. The large wave riders that enjoy her now have progressed to such incredible levels of precision in the dance of large wave surfing that it is boggling to watch, so very cool. I spend more time surfing other places than watching Mav's until I know it is the "Best Show in Town". Mav's can be such a spectacular display of ocean and wave power. It really is something to witness.

Continue reading the Interview with Frosty.

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