100 Foot Wave
Directed byChris Smith
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons2
No. of episodes12
Executive producers
  • Chris Smith
  • Joe Lewis
  • Ryan Heller
  • Maria Zuckerman
  • Michael Bloom
  • Nancy Abraham
  • Lisa Heller
  • Bentley Weiner
  • Connor Culhane
  • Adrienne Gits
  • Abhay Sofsky
  • Brandon Valentin
Running time52-60 minutes
Production companies
Original networkHBO
Original releaseJuly 18, 2021 (2021-07-18) –

100 Foot Wave is an American documentary television series directed by Chris Smith, revolving around big-wave surfer Garrett McNamara as he traveled to Nazaré, Portugal with the goal of conquering a 100-foot wave. It premiered on HBO on July 18, 2021.[1][2]

In August 2021, HBO renewed the series for a second season, which premiered on April 16, 2023.[3]


McNamara's career as a big-wave surfer is chronicled. The series focuses on his time in Nazaré, where he hopes to find and conquer a 100-foot wave. He works alongside Nazaré locals to transform the town into a surfing destination known for its immense waves. Other big-wave surfers are also profiled.


Season 1 (2021)

No.TitleDirected byOriginal air date [4]U.S. viewers
1"Chapter I: Sea Monsters"Chris SmithJuly 18, 2021 (2021-07-18)N/A
Professional big wave surfer Garrett McNamara begins "tow surfing," using jet skis to be able to get on taller and taller waves. After McNamara is filmed riding the barrel of a 20-foot wave at Hawaii's famous Jaws surf site, the video gets shared around the world and a resident of Nazaré Portugal reaches out to Garrett to try to get him interested in the mammoth waves that crash onto Nazaré's shore. McNamara goes to Nazaré and builds a team of like-minded surfers in hopes of catching the mythical 100-foot wave.
2"Chapter II: We're Not Surfers"Chris SmithJuly 25, 2021 (2021-07-25)N/A
McNamara and his team return to Nazaré for another season of surfing. The team struggles through a number of accidents and challenges but eventually develop a set of safety procedures that enable them to surf Nazaré's wave with less chance of injury or death. The struggles pay off when McNamara catches a nearly 80 foot tall wave that catapults him to international fame and makes him the holder of the world record for largest wave surfed.
3"Chapter III: Mavericks"Chris SmithAugust 1, 2021 (2021-08-01)N/A
After losing his drive to continue surfing at Nazaré, McNamara decides to return to competitive surfing at other big-wave sites. In order to compete in a tournament at California's Mavericks surf site, he must surf there regularly, something that he has done many times in the past. McNamara returns to Mavericks only to suffer a horrific injury on a wave he should have aced.
4"Chapter IV: Dancing With God"Chris SmithAugust 8, 2021 (2021-08-08)N/A
McNamara recovers from the injuries he sustained at Mavericks and begins training to return to Nazaré for another season. While surfing at Indonesia's G-Land site, Garrett suffers more injuries that threaten to take him off the waves permanently. Meanwhile, a friend of Garretts catches an 80-foot wave at Nazaré, taking the world record from McNamara. McNamara resolves to continue his hunt for a 100-foot wave.
5"Chapter V: The Circus"Chris SmithAugust 15, 2021 (2021-08-15)0.205[5]
As dozens of top surfers from across the world arrive in Nazaré to train and prepare for a major big-wave competition, Garret continues to struggle with his physical injuries and mental preparedness. He knows he is not ready to surf in the competition but seeing the other surfers makes him consider competing anyway. Garrett also has misgivings about the state of safety plans at the competition, and tries to convince the organizers to beef up their plans.
6"Chapter VI: More Than Just a Wipeout"Chris SmithAugust 22, 2021 (2021-08-22)0.197[6]
The day of the Nazaré competition has arrived, and Garrett decides not to compete but instead support his long-time friend and teammate Andrew "Cotty" Cotton. The competition does not go smoothly, with a major accident that has secondary effects on Cotty. After the competition, Garrett tries surfing at Nazaré again and realizes that can resume big-wave surfing. The episode concludes with retrospectives from a number of the surfers who appeared on various episodes throughout the season.

Season 2 (2023)

No.TitleDirected byOriginal air date [7]U.S. viewers
1"Chapter I: Epsilon"Chris SmithApril 16, 2023 (2023-04-16)0.121[8]
2"Chapter II: The Circus is Burning"Chris SmithApril 23, 2023 (2023-04-23)0.100[9]
3"Chapter III: Jaws"Chris SmithApril 30, 2023 (2023-04-30)0.155[10]
4"Chapter IV: Partners"Chris SmithMay 7, 2023 (2023-05-07)N/A
5"Chapter V: Lost at Sea"Chris SmithMay 14, 2023 (2023-05-14)0.083[11]
6"Chapter VI: Force Majeure"Chris SmithMay 21, 2023 (2023-05-21)N/A


Smith was approached by Joe Lewis to direct a documentary feature film about McNamara. However, when the first cut of the film turned out to be six hours long, Smith felt it would be better suited as a docuseries.[12] In February 2021, it was announced that a 6-episode documentary series would be produced by Topic Studios and distributed by HBO.[13][14]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series Joe Lewis, Chris Smith, Maria Zuckerman, Ryan Heller,
Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller, and Bentley Weiner
Nominated [15]
Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program Mike Prickett and Laurent Pujol (for "Chapter IV: Dancing with God") Won


  1. ^ "HBO & HBO Max Summer Programming Overview". The Futon Critic. May 21, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  2. ^ "Video: HBO Releases Official Teaser for Documentary Series "100 Foot Wave," Premiering July 18". The Futon Critic. June 21, 2021.
  3. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (August 9, 2021). "'100 Foot Wave' Renewed for Season 2 at HBO (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  4. ^ "100 Foot Wave". Futon Critic. Retrieved July 25, 2021.
  5. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (August 17, 2021). "Updated: ShowbuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 8.15.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved August 27, 2021.
  6. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (August 24, 2021). "Updated: ShowBuzzDaily's Top 150 Sunday Cable Originals & Network Finals: 8.22.2021". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved August 27, 2021.
  7. ^ "Emmy Winning HBO Original Docuseries 100 FOOT WAVE Returns For Its Second Season April 16". WarnerMedia. March 27, 2023. Retrieved April 16, 2023.
  8. ^ Metcalf, Mitch (April 18, 2023). "Showbuzz Daily's Sunday 4.16.2023 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved April 28, 2023.
  9. ^ Salem, Mitch (April 25, 2023). "Showbuzz Daily's Sunday 4.23.2023 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved April 28, 2023.
  10. ^ Salem, Mitch (May 2, 2023). "Showbuzz Daily's Sunday 4.30.2023 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved May 2, 2023.
  11. ^ Salem, Mitch (May 16, 2023). "Showbuzz Daily's Sunday 5.14.2023 Top 150 Cable Originals & Network Finals Updated". Showbuzz Daily. Retrieved May 16, 2023.
  12. ^ Morfoot, Addie (July 18, 2021). "Filmmaker Chris Smith on '100 Foot Wave,' Surfing and 'Tiger King'". Variety. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  13. ^ "HBO Announces Six-Part Documentary Series 100 FOOT WAVE". WarnerMedia. February 8, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  14. ^ Tapp, Tom (February 8, 2021). "HBO Announces Six-Part Sports Documentary '100 Foot Wave' Focused On Big-Wave Pioneer Garrett McNamara's Quest For Surfing's Everest". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  15. ^ Moreau, Jordan (July 12, 2022). "Emmys 2022: Complete Nominations List". Variety. Retrieved July 12, 2022.