A lot of focus and praise recently has been heaped on our very own, home grown big wave surfer Andrew Cotton, and rightly so. With big wave surfing in the news again this week with the Mavericks Invertational, I would like to use this space to look at another big wave surfer who shot to fame two decades ago. Like Cotty he fearlessly pushed the boundaries of what was thought possible at the time.

Twenty years ago this year, back in 1994, age just 16, Californian Jay Moriarity paddled out on a huge day at Mavericks. He had prepared for this day for years with intense mental and physical training from his mentor Frosty Hesson. On his first wave Jay took, to this day, one of the heaviest, most gut wrenching wipeouts ever witnessed. The truly amazing thing is, having just survived a wipeout and hold-down that would have killed many a less prepared surfer, Jay proceeded to grab his spare board, paddle back out, successfully catch eight waves in what turned out to be a five hour session. A shot of the wipeout made the cover of Surfer Magazine the following month. Jay became a regular in the lineup at Mavericks in the years after but from that remarkable day, the legend of Jay Moriarity was born.

Some of you reading this may remember the O’neill Surf Academy. This was a team of professional surfers put together for a European tour, with the aim of teaching and introducing kids to surfing. The team at that time was made up largely of young pro surfers from Santa Cruz California, the home of O’neill. Croyde was one of the stops on the tour and Jay was on the team. For two summers, those of us that were lucky enough to live and work in Croyde at the time, spent many evenings in Jay’s company. (I was working at the Thatch where the team were staying). Lock-ins were a nightly occurrence and while the other young pros on the tour were struggling to get to grips with British strength beer, Jay was always a little more reserved, always smiling, positive and pleased to see you, but with absolutely nothing to prove.
jay 2
Just one week before the team were due to return to Croyde for the 2001 tour, news came through that Jay had died in a free diving accident in the Maldives. It sent a shockwave through the surfing world. The few people in North Devon that had got to know him joined thousands around the world in feeling a genuine grief for this talented, determined young surfer whose attitude, positivity and personality had touched the lives of so many. Jay died on 15th June 2001, the day before his 23rd birthday.

In 2012 Jay’s life was enough of an inspiration for Hollywood to release a film of his life; ‘Chasing Mavericks’ starring Jonny Weston as Jay and Gerard Butler as Frosty Hesson.

With floods still dominating the news we can only feel here at Tiki that we have got off lightly (so far!) This time last year we still weren’t open for business having been flooded just before Christmas. Our thoughts are with those homes and businesses who in some cases have been under water now for weeks.. We know how it feels!

So with the horrific weather and now gale force winds screwing up any chances of good surf, some people might be thinking of escaping our green and pleasant land. lets cheer ourselves up then (or make ourselves even more depressed!) and have a look at how four of our favorite surf spots around the world are doing this week.

Costa Rica – Nicoya Peninsula

It is prime time for Central America at this time of year, its dry season so its sunny, warm and generally with light offshore winds every day. The Nicoya Peninsula is home to such spots as Tamarindo, Nosara, Mal Pais in the south and of course the famous Witches Rock and Playa Negra which both featured in the classic surf movie, Endless Summer II.

Its looking like a mellow 2-3 ft this week and with the air temp at 25-30 degrees and the water temp at a steady 27 degrees its board shorts and UV rashie all the way!

Witches Rock

Witches Rock, Costa Rica

Indonesia – Sumatra and The Mentawai Islands

Its off season for Indo right now but its still a warm, wave filled and super adventurous destination for anyone looking for a real contrast to here. You might still get a bit of rain though! If I had the time and money I would charter a boat and head off round the Mentawai Islands and try and find some uncrowded waves.

Conditions look good this week out in Indo, but then there are always waves to be found in this area of the world. If you are looking for hollow, punchy, world class surf in a tropical location Indo really has to be top of your list.

Mentawai Islands

Mentawai Islands, Indonesia

Morocco – North West Coast

Lets look closer to home now and at just three hours flying time away from the UK, Morocco has been a favorite destination with British surfers for decades. It’s coastline lies wide open to Atlantic swells giving it a very high wave consistency, particularly at this time of year. Far enough south to remain pleasantly warm through the whole year, its home to such famous breaks as Anchors, Killer Point and Boilers. Mostly right hand points but there are less intimidating beach breaks for the beginner.

Looks like its pumping out there this week, they’re getting good swell from all those low pressure systems that are giving us the bad weather here in the UK at the moment. The air is a pleasant 20-24 degrees during the day, cooler at night but the water is only 17 degrees, the same as our summer water temp so take your 3/2 summer suit!


Anchor Point, Morocco

Sri Lanka – South West Coast

Another tropical destination, in the Indian ocean this time. Again, Sri Lanka is a popular destination for British surfers. With a hugely diverse and interesting culture, it’s waves are generally mellower and more user friendly compared to Indo, particularly for the beginner to intermediate surfer. A great time of year to visit the south west coast (visit their south east coast in our summer) flight prices start around the £500 mark but this is a very cheap destination once you are there.

Not looking so good this week with 1-2 ft waves coming through but picking up next week at 3-4 ft. Its such a laid back vibe out here and the people generally are so friendly and accomodating. If the surf is flat, head up to the hill country and the colonial tea plantations or charter a boat and go blue whale spotting or do a scuba diving course in the beautiful warm, clear water.

Hikkaduwa, Sri Lanka