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Experience Maverick’s monster waves without the wipeout

Now available on DVD and Netflix, Chasing Mavericks is inspired by surfing legend Jay Moriarity's quest to conquer Mavericks, the massive surf break that lies 4 miles south of the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel. The coming-of-age tale stars newcomer Jonny Weston as a teenage Moriarity, who seeks the help of local surfing pro Frosty Hesson, played by Gerard Butler, to survive these infamous California giants.

Aided by the biggest names in the world of surfing, Chasing Mavericks features some of the most incredible real wave footage ever caught on film. Mark Rawden from Cinemablend.com notes that "Much of Chasing Mavericks' runtime takes place in the water. Whether sitting atop boards and talking or actually surfing, it was imperative the ocean shots were done properly and what is achieved is nothing short of spectacular."

Located roughly half a mile off the coast of Pillar Point Harbor, just north of the town of Half Moon Bay, the famed Maverick's surf break is triggered by an unusual underwater rock formation that juts out into the Pacific. When winter swells -- traveling unobstructed for miles -- slam into this protruding reef, waves crest as high as 50 feet. This causes dangerously strong currents along with the threat of rocks and shallow reef.

The spot got its name in the early 1960s when a group of locals paddled out to see if the wave was rideable, followed by their adventure-seeking German Shepherd, Maverick. They decided that it was much too violent for any sane person to surf, but the dog's bravery caused the name to stick. In the 1970s Half Moon Bay native Jeff Clark decided to tackle the wave and discovered a personal playground for himself, which he continued to enjoy for 15 years. In the early '90s Clark brought some Santa Cruz friends along to test the waters and soon the cat was out of the bag.

Over the years the danger and sheer magnitude of Mavericks has called many surfers to test their courage. Jay Moriarity was one of the youngest contenders, taking on the wave at the tender age of 16. It wasn't without some major wipeouts though -- one in 1994 was so spectacular it put him on the cover of Surfer magazine and landed him in the New York Times as a 16-year-old surfing phenomenon. Around the same time Hawaiian big-wave surfer Mark Foo paddled out and tragically never came back. Disasters like these position Mavericks as a symbol of Mother Nature's deadly power and the extraordinary bravery of those who test it. 

The first surf competition was held here in 1999. Known as "Men Who Ride Mountains," it attracted thrill-seekers from across the globe and put Mavericks on the map as an international surfing sensation. This year's competition, the Mavericks Invitational, took place on January 20. Peter Mel took home the title but split the $50,000 jackpot among the six other contenders, as has become Maverick's tradition.

If You Go 

Stay at the Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel and check out Mavericks for yourself.