Do 100-foot waves exist? If so, what does such a leviathan look like? And can a human even ride one?
Directed and executive produced by Chris Smith and executive produced by Emmy winner Joe Lewis, the six-part HBO Sports Documentary series 100 Foot Wave plumbs the depths of those questions through the quest of one man. The series intimately follows the decade-long odyssey of big-wave pioneer Garrett McNamara who, after visiting a small fishing village in Portugal, helped push the sport beyond the realm of imagination.
For decades, the biggest wave ever ridden was agreed to have been a legendary 35-foot monster ridden by Greg Noll in 1969 on the West Side of Oahu. Surfers rehashed Noll’s ride, arguing whether a wave could even reach that height without toppling over and, if so, if a human could actually ride it.
As surfers explored the planet, they eventually discovered a very few rare spots — in California, in Baja, on Maui and on a sea mount 100 miles offshore. Then came Nazaré.
McNamara – the longtime Guinness World Record holder for the largest wave ever surfed – was recruited in 2010 by a band of Portugese locals who hoped to find out if the massive swells they had observed just off the coast of Nazaré were surfable.
Standing atop the city’s abandoned 500-year-old red lighthouse, McNamara and his wife Nicole witnessed surf more dangerous than any they had ever seen, even in Hawaii. In the years to come, the idea of riding a 100-foot wave — and photos that seemed to promise the possibility — attracted the most fearless big-wave riders on the planet, solidifying Nazaré as the world’s marquee destination for men — and women — who ride mountains.
Over the course of six episodes, 100 Foot Wave interweaves the transformative story of a small seaside village with McNamara and his peers’ ongoing search for surfing’s Everest. The series captures the common spirit and fearless passion shared by big-wave surfers from across the world as they push themselves beyond life-altering injuries and tantalizing near-misses in their collective pursuit of the inconceivable.
Spanning four continents, 100 Foot Wave is an inspirational story of a group of people on a quest for a once unimaginable goal. It’s the tale of a town and a sport forever changed by that seemingly impossible dream.
100 Foot Wave is produced by Topic Studios, Library Films and Amplify Pictures. It is directed by Chris Smith; executive producers, Chris Smith, Joe Lewis, Maria Zuckerman, Ryan Heller and Michael Bloom. The series will premiere this spring on HBO and be available to stream on HBO Max.