100 Foot Wave

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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 release
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]

In August 2023, HBO renewed the series for a third season.[4]


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 [5]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[6]
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[7]
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 [8]U.S. viewers
1"Chapter I: Epsilon"Chris SmithApril 16, 2023 (2023-04-16)0.121[9]
2"Chapter II: The Circus is Burning"Chris SmithApril 23, 2023 (2023-04-23)0.100[10]
3"Chapter III: Jaws"Chris SmithApril 30, 2023 (2023-04-30)0.155[11]
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[12]
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.[13] In February 2021, it was announced that a 6-episode documentary series would be produced by Topic Studios and distributed by HBO.[14][15]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
American Cinema Editors Awards Best Edited Documentary – (Non-Theatrical) Connor Culhane, Adrienne Gits, Abhay Sofsky, and Brandon Valentin (for "Chapter I - Sea Monsters") Nominated [16][17]
Cinema Eye Honors Outstanding Broadcast Cinematography Chris Smith, Jerry Ricciotti, Mike Prickett, and Laurent Pujol Nominated [18]
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series Joe Lewis, Chris Smith, Maria Zuckerman, Ryan Heller, Nancy Abraham, Lisa Heller, and Bentley Weiner Nominated [19]
Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program Mike Prickett and Laurent Pujol (for "Chapter IV - Dancing with God") Won
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Sports Program 100 Foot Wave Won [20]
Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction Series Nominated [21]
Outstanding Cinematography for a Nonfiction Program Antoine Chicoye, Mikey Corker, Vincent Kardasik, Alexandre Lesbats, Chris Smith, Laurent Pujol, João Vidinha, Michael Darrigade (for "Chapter VI - Force Majeure") Won
Outstanding Picture Editing for a Nonfiction Program Alex Bayer, Alex Keipper, Quin O'Brien (for "Chapter III - Jaws") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction or Reality Program (Single or Multi-Camera) Max Holland, Eric Di Stefano, Kevin Senzaki (for "Chapter V - Lost at Sea") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Nonfiction Program (Single or Multi-Camera) Keith Hodne (for "Chapter V - Lost at Sea") Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program Zach Rothfeld (for "Chapter V - Lost at Sea") Nominated
American Cinema Editors Best Edited Documentary (Non-Theatrical) Alex Bayer, Alex Keipper, and Quin O'Brien (for "Jaws") Nominated [22]
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing for Television – Non-Fiction, Variety, or Music/Series or Specials Keith Hodne (for "Lost at Sea") Won [23]
Golden Reel Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Non-Theatrical Documentary Keith Hodne, Max Holland, Eric Di Stefano, Kevin Senzaki, Eli Akselrod, Mika Anami (for "Lost at Sea") Pending [24]
Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Sports Program 100 Foot Wave Nominated [25]


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  3. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (August 9, 2021). "'100 Foot Wave' Renewed for Season 2 at HBO (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  4. ^ Carey, Matthew (August 23, 2023). "HBO Renews Emmy-Winning Documentary Series '100 Foot Wave' For Season 3". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved August 23, 2023.
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  13. ^ Morfoot, Addie (July 18, 2021). "Filmmaker Chris Smith on '100 Foot Wave,' Surfing and 'Tiger King'". Variety. Retrieved August 2, 2021.
  14. ^ "HBO Announces Six-Part Documentary Series 100 FOOT WAVE". WarnerMedia. February 8, 2021. Retrieved June 7, 2021.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Tangcay, Jazz (27 January 2022). "'Belfast,' 'King Richard,' 'No Time to Die' Among ACE Eddie Awards Nominations". Variety. Retrieved 30 January 2022.
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