Watch: 100 Foot Wave // Trailer
It's a funny old thing reflecting back on it.
Around 2010 I somehow found myself on the database for an email newsletter called 'Project North Canyon'. I recall the regular updates being crudely worded and constructed: out of focus photographs jammed between out of context pull quotes. They didn't arouse curiousity, I'd open maybe one in three emails, and it was hard to discern exactly what the architects of the newsletter were trying to achieve. It read like surf spam.
At some point, Garrett MacNamara's name began to appear in the subject line. Garrett, then a second string, fading big wave guy, didn't have the pulling power to induce interest. Not from myself at any rate.
Within a few years, however, the project - which was designed to drive tourism to Nazare - was achieving dividends. In 2013 the first world record fell, giving the wider world a view of what was happening, and soon after Euro surfers began to pass on Hawaii and spend their winter months at Nazare. In 2015, the first contest was held, and by 2020 the headland was full to capacity on each swell, and real estate prices in the town had skyrocketed.
Following the story in reverse: Before 2010, G'Mac knew nothing about Nazare, nor 'Project North Canyon' which was designed purely to bring attention to the wave. Local bodyboarder, Dino Casimiro, figured he'd need a big name to give legitimacy to Nazare and when both Laird Hamilton and Carlos Burle didn't reply to emails, Casimiro sought out G'Mac.
G'Mac was, prior to Casimiro's email, working on an uncompleted film called 'Waterman', that supposed to document his search for a 100 foot wave. McNamara simply transposed that worldwide search onto the few square kilometres of Praia do Norte at Nazare, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The story will now be told - hopefully in full - in a six-part series on HBO called '100 Foot Wave'. The series is described thus:
"100 FOOT WAVE intimately captures the decade-long odyssey of surfing pioneer Garrett McNamara, who, after visiting Nazaré, Portugal in hopes of conquering a 100-foot wave, pushed the sport to ever-greater heights and alongside locals helped transform the small fishing village into the world’s preeminent big-wave surfing destination.
"The six-episode series captures the common spirit and fearless passion shared by McNamara and big-wave surfers from across the world as they push themselves through 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 to achieve new heights, and a town and a sport that were forever changed by one seemingly impossible dream."