Live Like Jay

Reflections on the life of Jay Moriarity, 10 years after his untimely death

Jay Moriarity's iconic Mavericks drop on our May 1995 cover.

In the decade since Jay Moriarity's tragic death, "Live Like Jay" has become to Santa Cruz what "Eddie Would Go" is to Oahu. The compact stickers are plastered on cars, street signs, and lampposts from Natural Bridges to Capitola. This Saturday, surfers from all over the world will paddle out in the Surftech Jay Race, a memorial paddleboard competition in Capitola. While the vast majority of those inspired by Jay never met him, several knew him well, both in and out of the water. This is what "Live Like Jay" means to them. —Steve Stampley

Peter Mel
"I grew up at Pleasure Point and remember when he first showed up. My first impression was, 'Who does this kid think he is, being that happy? Something must be wrong with him.' That was just not normal Santa Cruz. As a kid, you were taught to be really serious and protective of your space. It's cliché to say now, but he had the ability to cut right through that. We bonded and became pretty close through the brotherhood of big-wave surfing. Jay was friendly and determined—exactly like everyone says he was. All those things that every man should have, he had from an early age. I definitely learned from him. 'Live Like Jay,' to me, is to persevere and to allow yourself to have that pure soul. It's something that I had to develop that he just had naturally."

Evan Slater
"Jay and I surfed Mavericks for the first time on the same day—April 1, 1994. We formed a friendship and I looked forward to surfing with him whenever we could. The day he got the cover shot, it was about 9 or 10 in the morning. The offshores were blowing, making it really difficult. Jay came out wild-eyed and carefree with that smirkish grin he always had. We saw the set coming in and everyone knew what was gonna happen. But Jay jumped out and paddled hard for it. You could hear the screams down the line when everyone realized he was going for it. As he went out, I shouted 'Goodnight, Jay.' He was under for a really long time. I actually took the next wave to look for him and that's when he popped up on the inside. Jay always took the high road. It's so easy to hang onto negatives, but he just made you want to be better. He was always looking for the good in people. After he died, I got one of the small round pins that said 'Always Remember Jay Moriarity.' I've kept it above me on the visor in whatever car I've had for 10 years. It's a daily reminder."

Flea Virostko
"Back then we were all living pretty hard. Jay showed up at Mavericks at 16 and he had a plan. It was cool to see someone so focused. We were charging and he was charging too, he was just more technical about it. When he got the cover shot, I was on the shoulder of that wave. I was like, 'Fuck. He's dead. There's no way anyone could make that drop.' But he had it in his mind that he was going to make the drop and get one on the bowl. The 'Live Like Jay' everywhere, to me it's: Live a healthy lifestyle and be happy in life. And anyone can do that."

Kim Moriarity
"People will forget what you say and do, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Jay touched so many people and he tried to leave everywhere he went just a little bit better. When people were around him, they felt the love and sincerity. Jay used to love to look for the gnarliest looking person he could find, make eye contact with them and smile. He came from a place of love in his heart and would use it to break down barriers with other people. 'Live Like Jay' doesn't mean you have to be a tough, big-wave surfer. Jay knew that, even for him, that would eventually end. It means find out what you're here for and follow it. Be true to yourself and treat others well."