A young boy, Jay Moriarity (played by Jonny Weston) learns a lot about the ocean's surf by observing it. He falls into the ocean by accident and is saved by an older more experienced surfer Frosty Hesson (played by Gerard Butler). The boy's mom Kristy Moriarity (played by Elisabeth Shue) is a drunk but she tries her best to do right by her son. The boy wants to learn to surf. He finds an old board in the garage that he repairs. He goes into the water but doesn't know what he is doing. A local kid helps him and he is able to get up on his first wave. Seven years later he is a almost a pro in the smaller waves that are easier to surf. He surfs using a long board instead of the more common short board. The local tough guys want to fight with him but he ignores them. He see the guy he knows from when he was a much younger kid going for some big waves at a private beach. He sneaks a ride on the top of his van to find out where he is going.
The waves are monsters, more than thirty feet high. He is enchanted when he sees the guys surf these waves. The old guy, Frosty, sees the kid watching him from the beach. But this is the secret spot of Frosty and his three buddies. Frosty doesn't want anyone else to know about the location of the big waves. They are the legendary waves called the “Mavericks”, which only appear at certain times of the year and only get enormous during “El Nino” tides that occur once per decade.
Jay begs Frosty to teach him how to ride these monster waves. Frosty reluctantly agrees because without his help training the young boy, the waves will kill him for sure, especially if Jay tries to surf them unprepared. Frosty tells Jay the season lasts for 12 weeks more and if he wants to ride the big waves he needs to train hard to build his strength. Not just physical strength, but the ability to hold his breath for long a four-minute period while under water and most importantly the ability to deal with fear without panic. The physical test of whether Jay is strong enough is when he has the ability to paddle a kayak across the 35 miles necessary to reach the other side of Monterey Bay. Jay practices every day until he is almost good enough.
Frosty's wife Brenda Hesson (played by Abigail Spencer) has a sudden stroke and dies. This puts Frosty into such a depression that he swims out on the kayak to the middle of the bay to try to kill himself. Jay finds him there and since they are already past the half way point they continue to the other side completing the 35 mile journey across the bay to prove Jay has the physical strength.
The weather changes and “El Nino” has arrived. Everyone who did not believe in the legendary waves called “Mavericks” gets a chance to see them for themselves and to try to surf them if they dare. These waves are massive 3 to 5 stories high. Jay gets into the water to prove he can do it. On his first attempt he fails and it appears that he may have drowned. His loses his board and after a very long period finally comes up for air. He retrieves his board from a ship that is helping nearby and tries once again to rid the big wave. On his second attempt he rides the wave magnificently achieving his goal.
Best part of story, including ending:
This movie is about people that have a deep connection to the ocean water. It is almost a spiritual connection in their relationship with the ocean. This is the deeper meaning of surfing.
Best scene in story:
My favorite scene is when Jay as a young boy saves the dog from drowning by rushing down the rocks to retrieve a lost ball that the dog is chasing towards the dangerous rocky edge next to the massive ocean spray. He puts himself at great risk doing this, but he also impresses his young girlfriend that tells him that was the most courageous thing she has ever seen.
Opinion about the main character:
Jay always seems to maintain a positive attitude no matter what is happening, which is admirable.