100 Foot Wave (2021–…): Season 1, Episode 2 - We're Not Surfers - full transcript

In 2011, the McNamaras and their team reconvene in Nazare, where they kick preparations into high gear to prepare. Garrett catches a wave that forever changes him, the small seaside town, and the legacy of the sport.

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That's what you want
to run away from.

2007, we're doing
some documentaries

with Deep Water Films.

We've got Ryan Casey. He
said, "I got this idea."

So he emails me a video,

and as this glacier
calves off...

Oh, shit!

It creates this perfect wave.

How big was what we just saw?

It came from the top, so
it was about 300 feet high.

And the chunks that were
flying across the river were

probably the size
of the vans here.

We went up there and scouted.

It looked totally doable.

Get in the water
the first day and...

Overwhelming, terrifying fear

just consumed me.

I visualized myself on the
bottom of the riverbed,

squashed under this
massive piece of ice.

It just was so overwhelming
that I threw in the towel.

I said, "We're out of here."

I don't know what's
wrong with my partner.

I don't know. I
think he's scared.

He's got a little
scariness in his eyes.

Called my wife, and I'm
crying on the phone.

I'm like, "I want
to get out of here.

This is too much."

Please hold hands and
say a prayer for me

and Keali'i and
everybody else up here

'cause it's really dangerous.

And I love you guys.

And then my partner Keali'i,
who's usually the guy

who's real cautious,

he goes, "Ah, don't worry.
We're gonna be fine."

Sure enough, the next
day, I felt better,

and we went back out.

We were sitting there
for hours waiting

under this glacier as
she creaks and cracks,

and it's like a horror movie.

Oh, oh, oh, shit! Holy shit!

Holy shit!

Holy shit!

God damn!

It was spooky.

But we made it.

- Oh...
- I got it!

We were there for seven days

riding waves and having fun.

Yeah, it was amazing.

So I go back home,

and now I go back
into the big waves,

and everything was,
like, so comfortable.

The fear in the
ocean disappeared.

So I couldn't get
that adrenaline rush.

And I surf for the
rush, so I thought,

"Okay, maybe if I ride
this 100-foot wave,

I'll get the rush again."

And so I quickly
got on that mission

to try and find and
ride the 100-foot wave.

Check out these
monster 100-foot waves

off of Portugal.

The biggest wave ever surfed,

as high as 100 feet.

To put that in perspective,

that is taller than an
eight-story building.

Surfers are always looking
for the next great thing.

It often breaks those brave
or crazy board riders.

Severe wipeouts and waves
of mind-boggling heights.

What happens here happens
nowhere else in the world.

- Biggest wave ever surfed.
- The biggest wave ever...

- Will be the biggest wave...
- The biggest wave...

The 100-foot wave.

Measuring big waves is
complex, yet simple.

What you've gotta understand is,

measuring a wave
is very different

from measuring a mountain.

That mountain's not gonna move.

You can go back and
measure it today.

You can measure it tomorrow.
You can measure it next week.

The wave is only there for
that fraction of a second.

And there's nothing you can
ever do to bring it back.

The proper way to
measure a wave that

the big wave surf
community has agreed on,

one takes the best
photo, image of a wave

and decides where the
bottom of the wave is

and where the top
of the wave is.

Then, taking a guy who's
on the wave surfing it

and guesstimating how tall
he's standing in the photo

'cause remember, he's crouched
down as low as he can be.

And then literally placing him

from the bottom to the top,


as many times as you can,

multiply by

the supposed height
of the surfer,

and you have the
size of the wave.

So it's really nebulous

and, I would say, unclear
and controversial.

It's almost impossible
to measure a wave.

It's all subjective.

We can't agree as surfers
what a 3-foot wave is.

But when you're talking waves

that could be 50,
60, 70, 80 feet,

and there's no actual
facts, no actual data,

how do you measure
something to a foot?

That's an impossible task.

Measuring a wave,
especially when it comes

to giving out awards

and making a world record wave,

it's really tricky.

It's just this wave,
this moving thing.

In 2010, I knew we stumbled
across something super special

like nowhere else in the world.

I knew that the biggest
waves in the world

were gonna be ridden there.

So me and Nicole came
back the next year.

Last year, we came
with no expectations...


Left with hopes and dreams.

And those hopes and dreams
are now gonna be reality.

During the next two months,
first is getting ready

mentally, spiritually

to ride the biggest
wave ever ridden.

So 2011 was our second
year in Portugal.

We would make these
blueprints all the time,

like, where we'd write
our goals at the top.

And the only thing we
would ever really write

at the top is "the
100-foot wave."

That's what you're gonna
be doing every day,

playing in the
white water inside.

In 2011, there was no doubts
that Garrett was interested

in coming back
because he understood

what he discovered here.

The only doubt was if he
was coming more prepared

with more guys and who
was coming to help.

CJ, I trained him in Florida.

The surfing he has down.

He'll do really, really
well on the waves surfing.

Driving, he's gonna
need a lot of training.

- No way.
- How are you guys?

- The waves are perfect.
- Right now?

All the time, left and right.

I came last year,

and Garrett towed me

into a couple really good waves,

and I got hooked.

It was a no-brainer to
come back this year.

I plan on building
a surfing career

starting from this.

And I'm gonna catch the
wave of my life for sure

in these next couple months.

Just focus from here to there.

Burrow out the middle
a little bit more?

So that year, there
was a lot of focus

on Garrett training CJ.

I'm feeling really
confident with the ski.

It's just gonna come down to
once it gets big, you know?

In 2011, I really
was planted here

waiting for the waves to come.

And then eventually,
the day came

where the swell was picking up.

Then we drove out
onto the lighthouse

and looked out over the cliff,

and it wasn't big by
today's standards,

but by my standards,
it was big and stormy.


Take CJ out into the
water for the first time,

test his skills and
get his sea legs.

- So you ready?
- Of course I'm ready.

What are you gonna do out there?

I've been waiting for this
moment for a long time.

I'm probably gonna catch

the biggest wave I've
ever caught today.

You are feeling
pretty confident?

Uh, yeah, confident, nervous.

Heart's pumping for
sure, but it's good.

Good nerves. I like it.

Now it's time to
go make it happen,

go catch some waves.


It was the biggest
we had really surfed

up until that point.

I just felt these
nerves come up, like...

Once you decide to drop in
and the thing goes to break

and you're flying down the face

and all of a sudden
you're going way faster

than you thought you'd
be going, it's...

It's like, oh, my God,
why am I on this thing?

But there's no turning back.

We're just shot out of the
rocket and we're going.

The only way through is forward.

Got a bunch of good waves,
and then at the end,

got a good, solid pounding.

I get off from that one,

and then there was
probably another six,

seven waves behind it.

And I was just floored, whooped.

It was just the grinding,
the grinding, the pounding.

That was... that was tough.



We realized very quickly
we really need somebody

on the cliff, like the
eyes in the sky basically,

because the waves are
so big that when they're

in the trough of the wave,
they can't really see

what's happening, and
if somebody goes down,

you can't tell if it
was left or right.

You're getting sucked up north.

Sometimes you're getting
sucked towards the south,

towards the rocks.

So it started out as safety.

My job was only to say who fell,

where they fell, which
way they were going,

where they were, and
keep everybody safe.

When we go out
surfing in Nazaré,

Nicole's biggest role is
to be up on the lighthouse

with the walkie-talkie
to radio to us.

She's really helpful
in finding people.

If someone wipes out,
someone's in the impact zone,

we know how to get to them.

And then they started
to get really greedy,

so it's evolved into, you know,

"Where is the set coming?

Which one should I go
for? How many are there?"

Tell me which one to go for!

You got a big fat outside!

Oh, just keep telling me
where you see the best waves.

I can hear you perfect.

Garrett and the whole
crew there in Nazaré

really led the way in developing

a lot of systems for
big wave surfing.

And one of them is
the use of spotters,

which really has become very
important in tow surfing.

It might seem like chaos
where you've got people

barking these orders,

but it's a very choregraphed
dance that's taking place.

Straight in from where you are!

Go, go, go, go, go!
Fast, fast, fast!

More, more, more, more!

No way.

Come down, sit right here.

The first few times we went out

with me towing him,

it was kind of just madness.

Bashing against the waves.

Always gotta go sideways!

Always sideways!
Never in, never out!

I found it pretty stressful

to be just kind of
tossed into that

with Garrett pretty
much expecting me

to, you know, tow him
in and put him on waves.

These rights you were
putting me on right here?

That's what you want?

These rights you
were putting me on?

CJ tried to tow me.

He put me in a couple waves,

but it seemed like
he was afraid.

Couple moments of
miscommunication with Garrett.

And a couple hairy rescues.

- Go, go, go, go, go, go, go!
- That way, that way!

- Yeah, I felt it.
- I felt it hit you.

It was just miscommunication.

He didn't know what
I wanted him to do,

and I'm pretty loud.

"Over here, over there!"

So it was a little bit chaotic.

It just wasn't... We
weren't like that.

It was like, you
know, it was so...

I don't know why
Garrett chose me

and asked me to come with him
that year and drive like that

in a place that nobody
had done it before,

a spot where he should have,
like, some seasoned veteran.

I think at that point,

Garrett was pretty over
big wave surf scene

in general.

Once we discovered Nazaré,

the surfing world discredited it

and said it was a
fat, mushy mush burger

that wasn't really a wave.

People at first
wanted to dismiss it

as even being a good big wave.

It's stormy. It's cold.

Like, why would anyone
want to go there?

Nazaré in the beginning
wasn't respected.

All of us thought that
it was just, like,

this random spot
that does something

that makes it look
better than it is.

And that wave's a
pretty messy wave.

You know, it's all crossed up,

and it's got a lot
of stuff going on.

I put my career and
my life on the line

while everybody kept
saying it wasn't a wave,

so that hurt a lot.

I remember just hoping
that Garrett would call.

I wanted to come back.

2010 was an introduction
and realizing potential,

and 2011 was just opportunity.

- We'll have fun, Andrew.
- Yeah.

- We got the second ski.
- We're all good.

Look at these rights coming in.

A good right selection.

Yeah, that's looking good.

I'm frothing. Can't wait.

- Cool.

Couldn't turn...

I called Cotty back 'cause
I really loved his energy,

his willingness to do
whatever needed to be done

whenever it needed to be
done, and we were a team.

Really good synergy.

When Cotty showed
up, it was great

because I'm getting to
see how Garrett does it

with some more experienced guys,

how they like to drive.

It took a lot of
pressure off me.

At that point, we were
all still learning

how to drive a ski at Nazaré.

Garrett was basically
training us.

Yo, it plugs in!

He wanted it done
right, you know,

and he wanted it done his way.

Sometimes he'd be
shouting from the rope,

like, when you're towing him.

And that's kind of
hard to keep your cool

and sort of not react or
focus on what you're doing.

Even when you rescued him,
he'd be shouting at you.

Hey! Tell him to...

- You're scared.
- You're stressing.

And then you've got
Garrett shouting at you

to top it all off.

The toughest part about tow
surfing is being dependent

on a partner.

It is very similar
to a marriage.

You have to deal with
the personalities,

the good, the bad, and the ugly.


I'm a very fast-track,
focused, know what I want,

but I change very
quickly as well.

So it's probably very
hard for somebody

to be my partner.

Wait, wait, wait,
wait, wait. Go again.

Nazaré is not only a place
that requires the surfers

to be world-class,

it requires the
jet ski operators

to be beyond world-class.

I mean, galactic-class, I think.

It's easily the hardest
place in the world

to drive a jet ski because
you have to keep going

through the white water.

A jet ski was not
designed to drive

through this aerated foam.

So you'll often get a spot
where you don't have traction

and you end up stuck in the mud.

It's like being stuck in the mud

with an avalanche
coming after you.

It's really the
most dangerous place

in the world to be
in big wave surfing.

You have to have a lot of
experience and confidence,

but you also have to be ready
for something to go wrong.

- How you doing?
- I got slammed so hard.

- What happened after...
- I saw you flying like crazy.

- I landed on my face.
- It was like, doosh!

I don't know how
the hell that was.

Bonkers. Falling on
concrete as well.

Like, you know. That hurt.

That was stupid.

I should have just
fucking gone straight.

'Cause it's too high?

Just thought I'd
get off the back.

I didn't want to be, like...

But I should've
just gone with it.

It was crazy.

It would have been
so easy to, like,

"I don't want it."

You have shockers some
days where it's just like

everything's going
wrong and, you know,

you just want to give it all up.

There's a lot of times
you question, like,

what the hell am I doing?

Like, this isn't fun.

The plumbing job seems like,

"Oh, that could be such an
easier option, you know?

Like, guess I'll just go back
and just do a normal job."

Oh, he was always
a little daredevil.

He'd have a go, yeah.

He wouldn't see any fear really.

Always in scrapes,
should we say, but...

- But a boy, a proper boy.
- Proper little boy, yeah.

His asthma stopped
him from participating

in running sports.

But we encouraged him to
swim 'cause we were told

that swimming was good
for his condition.

My parents bought me a surfboard

when I was, like,
seven or eight.

Growing up in Devon,
the people you saw most,

sort of the people at your
local beach, you know?

Croyde had a strong sea.

It was quite a good community.

The local guys, you know,
they were always a bit older.

They were the guys that
I sort of looked up to.

You know, I just didn't
want to be as good,

I wanted to be better
than them, you know?

Last stretch and this
guy's about to take home

the silver win in
front of a home crowd.

At that point, surfing,
it was just a hobby.

It was never thought
to be a career path.

So I sort of, like, worked
in the surf industry

and just traveled
a lot, you know,

worked to travel and surf.

I never thought at any point

I'm gonna get to
do this full-time.

It was just, chase the
swell, go back to work,

chase another swell.

My dad tried to steer
me away from it.

"Are you gonna get a real
job?" sort of scenario,

which is why I did the plumbing.

That was my dad's thing.

It was like, you've
gotta have a profession.

You know, a skill, a trade.

And the surfing
isn't it, you know,

and it's never gonna be.

I think I might have forced him

into being a plumber.

I don't know whether he
resented me for that.

But he resented plumbing.
There's no doubt about it.

I got into this rhythm

where I was, like,
working six days a week,

and I just found myself
going down this path.

I was, like, looking
into the future,

and I could see myself,
like, sitting in the pub

at, like, 50, 60, saying,

"Oh, I could've done
that, but I didn't."

You know, "I could've."

And I really didn't want to
be that guy sitting there.

Kind of made me, like, sort
of wake up a bit, you know?

Like, okay, all right,
don't be that guy

that could've done
something but didn't.

When I got to Nazaré,

things just gelled, didn't they?

Everything just fell into
place at the right time.

There's different weather
sites that we look at.

And when a storm comes up,
it's a blob on the map.

When the blob is red, you
know it's gonna be big.

Nazaré doesn't create those
really good rideable waves

every single day.

It's a really complex
sort of calculation

of the swell period,
the swell angle,

the height, the wind.

All these variable
have to come together

for these giant
waves to show up.

The swell in 2011,
we had never seen

a red blob that big.

I was parked outside
a fish factory

on the west coast of Ireland.

My phone rang, and it
was an American number,

and I immediately knew
it was Garrett McNamara.

And he said, "Al, there's
a really big swell coming.

I think this is the
one. Can you come down?"

When I got to Nazaré,

there was an air of excitement,

but there was definitely
an air of, what is coming?

'Cause although we
had been out there

and we'd surfed big waves,

we felt that this was possibly
gonna be the biggest ever.

- Everything's good.
- Everything's ready.

We got Andrew Cotton,

Al Mennie, CJ,

and we're gonna
get a giant wave.

I don't remember sleeping
very well that night,

thinking about what's
gonna happen tomorrow.

I remember lying there,
and I heard a noise,

and I kept thinking,
what's that noise?

And I was listening
and listening.

It was the surf breaking on
the shore with such force,

it was making the door tremble.

Every now and again,
there'd be the chh, chh.

Of all the nights
I've been here,

I've never experienced
this before.

I really started to wonder,

is this really gonna
happen tomorrow?

We're about to see
the biggest surf ever

in the history of surfing.

Woke up early this
morning, checked the buoys,

checked the swell.

It looks really promising.

We're gonna be riding
the biggest waves

we've ever seen.

Thierry Donard was there.

He makes those movies
mainly about heli-skiing.

And he had rented a helicopter

because we thought it was
gonna be the biggest day ever.

I used to hear about this
canyon long time ago,

and when Garrett
told me the project,

I decided to come with
him to do the shooting.

Is no point to surfing the
biggest wave in the world

if nobody film.


Good to get a perspective of
what's going on from up there.

The setup we have was
absolutely avant-garde.

The challenge is not
only the way to surf.

The challenge is to
get the right jet ski,

the right crew.

So, guys, what are you thinking

about the swell that is coming?

What to say before
a swell, you know?

Don't want to jinx nothing.

- We're not surfers.
- We're gladiators.

Nazaré, the wave
seems to be unique,

and it's got the fear
factor, that's for sure.

- It's all exploration.
- We haven't done this before.

The biggest swell
that I've seen,

and we're just gonna
see where can go,

how far we can push it.

My stand-out memories of
Garrett these past years

was his mindset,

belief in, like,
anything's possible,

that the waves come to you,

how you can manifest a moment
with energy and visualization.

- I don't get butterflies.
- I don't get nervous.

I've surfed the wave so
many times in my mind,

just a matter of it coming.

I threw these figures around,
you know, 40-foot waves,

50-foot waves, 60-foot
waves, 100-foot waves, right?

That's very difficult
to understand

if you don't know
anything about surfing.

The best way to
think about it is,

if you were in a tower
block or an apartment block,

maybe you're in your apartment
watching this on TV right now,

look out the window.

That's the size of these waves.

That's the sort of size
we're talking about.

Just, like, Mother
Nature, isn't it?

You can feel the energy.

It doesn't matter how
strong you are, you know,

or how well you can swim.

There's no amount of training
that can prepare you for that.

We filmed all day,
and it was massive,

and it was super fun.

And we were catching
these beautiful waves,

wave after wave after wave.

You and your friends out
in the middle of the ocean

just riding these giant waves,


It's like a dream.

- For me it was a dream.
- This place, it's amazing.

It's unique in the world.

I never seen a wave like this.

I mean, I couldn't
believe this happened.

I was on the backup
ski, waiting patiently,

and they're surfing and
they're doing their thing,

and then the moment comes.

Garrett's like,
"You ready to surf?"

So I get on the rope.

I see this massive thing
rolling in from the ocean.

He puts me on it.

I ended up, thankfully, being
right in the sweet spot.

When you're in the sweet spot,
you're dancing with danger,

you know, 'cause
one little mistake,

and you're too far
back on the wave,

and it'll swallow you.

And then going too fast,

and you're kind of
out of the spot.

That was definitely
the biggest wave

that I've ridden, and
it was ridden well,

you know, ridden
in the sweet spot

as best as I could.

That was amazing.

That lights me up
to think about that.

When I get stuck in my head

and I start thinking
about things,

I've gotta make a point
to, like, stop myself

and really focus my thoughts
on what I want to happen,

not on other things,

'cause it's two people that
I love more than anything

in the world, you know,
my brother and Garrett.

So seeing them do
something together,

something in the ocean,

and something they
both love so much,

it's incredible.

Then there's the
other side of it too.

You're not there to conquer it.

You're there just to
experience it briefly

and then get out, you know?

And that's, like...
It's pretty amazing.

No one conquers the ocean.

It just doesn't happen.

Flow with it very briefly,

and if you're lucky,
then it'll let you go.

It's probably one of
the best feelings ever.

You learn a lot about yourself

because you're putting
yourself in positions

and situations that you
shouldn't necessarily be in.

At Nazaré in particular,
there are waves

that come through
that, sometimes,

you know you shouldn't go on,

but your heart is telling
you something else.

And often it's those waves
which are the most rewarding.

But those waves are
definitely the most dangerous.

At the end of the day,
Al lost his board,

so Garrett had to
go into the inside

and pick him up.

Garrett came to rescue me,

and a wave stood
up in front of us.

And this wave was coming, and
I thought I could make it.

And as he climbed the wave,
he decided at the last minute

we weren't gonna make it.

And it just kind of caught us,

over the falls, upside
down and backward.

I jumped off.

He bailed, but I
didn't know this.

And the ski goes up, and
I'm still holding onto it.


And then Cotty comes
in and grabs me,

takes me to the beach.

Cotton took Garrett in,
put him on the beach,

came back, and got me.

Then Garrett and I
are on the beach,

and we've got local
guys trying to help us

get the ski out of the water.

Paulo and all those
guys are down in there.

They want to rescue the
skis. We need the ski.

Meanwhile, Cotton is out
trying to get back out

and go to the harbor,
but at some point,

he got knocked from the jet ski.

As I was coming out, I
just got washed off it.

Literally, I couldn't hang on.

Garrett and I didn't know this.

We were standing on the beach.

We didn't know
he'd lost the ski.

All we could see was
these huge waves breaking.

So now he's out
there on his own,

and the jet ski's
literally going around

and getting away from him.

And I was like, this is it.

In the middle of it,

and I just grabbed
the side of the sled

and climbed up on, and
it was still running.

I just made it out.

If I'd lost it, then I
would've been in the worst...

I was, like, miles from
shore, not out the back,

just, like, right
in that middle bit.

- Can't be complacent.
- Gotta be focused.

When the waves are smaller,
you can get away with slip-ups

and, you know, nobody dies
and maybe a little hurt

here and there.

But once we start
playing with bigger

and bigger Nazaré waves,

you know, those
mistakes, you pay.

You really pay.

Teamwork in Nazaré
is so important.

Everyone needs to
be sort of gelled.

Having one tow team
and one rescue guy,

even that isn't enough.

It doesn't matter how
good Cotton is on the ski,

how good I am on the ski.

You can still panic.

You cannot predict how
everything will happen

in the moment.

Something could go wrong.

Cotty, I wasn't
gonna say anything,

but, like, I saw Al coming
up, and I just noticed

that, like, you picked
Garrett before him.

- He might be pissed.

No, listen, he was the
first person I saw.

I don't... that's...

And I was gonna
stop and pick Al up,

but Garrett was like,
"Just get me to the beach."

- Yeah.

I didn't see you.
I couldn't see you.

That's exactly what
happened. He left me.

But he took the old
man, took him in.

We get the ski off the beach.

We had a tractor in place,
brought it back to the harbor,

and I'm working on
the ski all night

'cause I knew there was
gonna be waves the next day.

It was about to start,

and then it exploded
and caught on fire.

Yeah, the ski was totaled,
and Garrett was beat up.

Then we just left it, went home.

And I was defeated, I
guess you could call it.

The next day was

a pretty strange-feeling day.

There was this kind
of ominous feeling.

It was kind of a heavy
feeling of the day.

The next morning,
Garrett's like,

"I'm not even going
surfing today.

I want nothing to do with it."

There was no plan.

It was like, we probably don't
have conditions to do nothing,

so no stress.

Let's see what happens.

When we see the first
light, we understand,

"Hey, wait a minute.
This is perfection."

And it was a perfect morning.

On that day, the sea was, like,

clean, beautiful blue.

It was, like, the
perfect condition.

Al Mennie and Cotty, they
went to wake up Garrett.

I remember Cotton and I
had to go to his hotel room

to see Garrett and get Garrett.

Normally, Garrett was
there. He was ready to go.

And this morning was slightly
different from memory.

I was usually the guy
who gets up super early

and excited, and I
was pretty exhausted.

And the boys came,
"Come on, Garrett.

"It's bigger. It's
better. Let's go.

We can't go out without you."

And I said, "Okay, I'll
go, but I'm just driving.

I'll drive you guys."

We're in the warehouse.
Everybody's suiting up.

And I remember walking
up to everybody.

I go, "Look, I'll go out
there with you guys",

"but we're going out
there pure and simple

for the love of it, for
fun, just to go have fun."

Surf for the right reasons,
just to do what we want to do,

not for anybody else
except for ourselves.

Not for this, not for
that, just to go get waves

and have fun and do
what we want to do.


I was on the lighthouse
with Paulo and Pitbull.

There was nobody
at the lighthouse.

It was, like, empty.
It was just us.

There was no other
surfers there.

There was no other,
like, film crew there.

It was just... I don't know,
like, a real magical day,

you know?

I think Al surfed first.

Al Mennie caught a couple waves.

Then he lost his board.

Cotty caught a couple
waves, maybe even one wave,

and then lost his board.

So we're going back
out, and they're like,

"Garrett, you go, you go."

I really didn't
feel like surfing.

I went, "Nah, I'm good."

I think it was me.

I think I actually said to him,

"Come on, you may as well
get a couple anyway."

Luckily, I had my board
out there just in case.

Cotty tried to tow me into one,

and I'm like, "Eh."

I didn't go.

Nothing really felt
right, and I'm just like,

"I'm not feeling it."

So I do my breathe up.


And I open my eyes.

And I reconnect.

And right after I did that,

Nicole gets on
the walkie-talkie.

Oh, a big set. Big set!



Cotty pulls me up on the rope,

and then everything felt good.

I was on the rope
like this new man.

And then I see this...
Biggest wave I've seen.

Whole horizon.

- Yeah! Whoo-hoo!
- Whoo!


Huge one!

And then Nicole
goes, "That was it!

That's the biggest wave!
Come in. Go to the harbor."

- Whoo-hoo!
- Time to go to the harbor!

Let's go make a baby!



After the wave was ridden,
they didn't surf more.

All of us that were there,

we knew that something
special had happened.

When we first arrived
at the harbor,

the look on their
faces was evident.

What had just happened,
it was obviously something

out of this world.

And at the time, I knew it.

I had the best view obviously

because I was sitting
right there in front of it.

And I could see the whole
big slope of the wave.

He was just charging
down it, so focused,

looking straight down the thing.

And I just remember
looking and going,

"Oh, my God. That is a beast."

Like, I had seen big waves all
around the world at that point.

I had been all over the
world surfing big waves,

and being there at
that moment in time,

I was in no doubt that this was
the biggest wave ever ridden.

I remember standing
in the apartment.

All the guys who were
in the media side of it

had all their laptops
all around the table,

and seeing the image
was incredible.

It's not until you
see a photograph...

It's a flattened
image, it's a 2D image

where you're this big
and the wave's this big,

where you can actually
go, "Oh, my goodness.

That's massive."

It was substantially bigger
than anything that day

or that we had ever seen.

- It was just insane.
- There was no doubt.

We knew it was the
biggest wave ever surfed.

Everybody just felt a
lot of accomplishment.

Like, we did it.

We knew that that wave
was gonna be enough

to prove to the world that
Nazaré was the biggest wave

in the world.

Of course Garrett
rode the biggest wave.

There's absolutely
no doubt about it,

and he should be the one that
gets the credit for that.

However, there was
multiple local men involved

in making that happen.

In fact, I think the local men
in Nazaré and the structure

and the setup and the
vision probably played more

of a vital role in the
surfers being able to surf

at Nazaré than the
surfers themselves do.

We're all outsiders.

Like, there's an American,

an Irishman, and an Englishman.

We're not local
Portuguese people.

We don't own anything.
The Portuguese own that.

And they should take
ownership of it.

And they should be the
proudest ones of it all.

It was definitely, for
me, one of the best days

of the project.

We felt extremely

We understood that
was a special moment.

And we need to send
this clip everywhere.

They sent it out to ESPN first.

The Association of
Surfing Professionals...

ESPN got a hold of it

and just blew it
up, ran with it.

Garrett McNamara.

Down in Portugal,
Garrett was towed

into a rogue wave
at the north canyon.

And then the world ran with it.

Now here's something that you
just have to see to believe.

While you were at work
surfing the web yesterday,

Garrett McNamara was surfing
one of the biggest waves

in the world.

The definition of
risk-taking nerve,

a surfer riding a
moving mountain of water

off of Portugal,
smashing the record

for the largest
wave ever surfed.

Look at him go. Unbelievable.

That blip right there
on the top of the wave,

that's extreme surfer
Garrett McNamara.

- Surfer Garrett McNamara.
- Garrett McNamara.

Garrett McNamara.

Garrett McNamara claims
that he has now surfed

the biggest wave ever.

Was this a new record?

Well, we won't know
until the spring.

That's when they announce
the official measurements.

It was a snowball
effect of media, media.

That wave was just like
an endless mountain.

Just kept... could
never get to the bottom.

It was wild.

We didn't sleep for three days
because of all the interviews

in the different time zones.

What we wanted to do
with this story was

to take the viewer as close
as most people will ever get

to a big wave.

There's a moment
where I look back,

and you actually see
this wave coming down.

Anderson Cooper
became like a friend.

I will never forget
his description

of what it's like
to ride a big wave.

You let go of the rope
and you come down.

- It's like riding a thing...

Sucks. It double sucks.

Down a building...

- It's gonna barrel.
- It's gonna barrel.

But the building's
collapsing on top of you.

And then you just
make it through.


So that was my
impression of Garrett.

The news catching wind of it
created a lot of excitement.

With that wave just has
come so much exposure.

The largest and meanest
waves in the world

slam into a headland in
Portugal called Nazaré.

That was the moment when
all eyes came on Nazaré.

Doors blew open, and
everybody could see in

and see these waves are
the biggest in the world.

And there's the guys
that are doing it.

There was no turning
back at that point.

It just kind of went
viral after that.

And then we put it
into the XXL Awards.

The idea behind the
XXL Big Wave Awards

was to elevate the status
of big wave surfing.

Here's these guys
riding 50-foot waves,

and what do they get?

They get a little picture
in "Surfer" magazine,

and their buddies buy them
a beer at the end of the day

'cause they rode the
biggest wave of the day

or maybe even the year.

So we proclaim someone
as being the champion

that rode the biggest
wave of the year.

And the winner is

both: Garrett McNamara!

First, I would like
to thank the town

of Nazaré in Portugal.

That is my family,

and the people are
just so amazing there.

It's the best kept secret
in Europe... in the world,

for that matter.

Biggest waves I've ever seen.

And I'd really like to thank
Nicole, my love, over there.

Thank you for
everything, Nicole.

We have a nail-biting
new world record

to tell you about.

A new Guinness World Record

for 44-year-old
Garrett McNamara.

His ride just
officially becoming

one for the record books.

The folks at the Guinness
Book have certified

the wave is 78 feet tall.

Ruling that McNamara
holds the title

for the largest
wave ever surfed.

That is the key
moment to all of this.

Until then, nobody on the
other side of the world

would believe that Nazaré
would have the biggest waves

in the world.

Nobody would believe in us.

And from that point on,

when that wave started
to appear everywhere,

nobody could ignore Nazaré.

Place is called
the Nazaré Canyon.

That is just unbelievable.

The wave came, Garrett rode it,

and I knew it was
really, really big.

I was really hoping
it was, like,

about 10 to 15 feet bigger.

The real job would
have been done,

but now we still are
waiting for one out there.

Um... no.

I drove Garrett into
the world record wave.

Couldn't have been more stoked.

Do you know what I mean?
Like, you kidding me?

Having that
opportunity to do that?

Like, that is a
career highlight.

I think that's the
quite unique thing

about big wave surfing is
that it's not always gonna be

you surfing it...
You and the team.

Garrett was towing
me ten minutes

before that world record wave.

He wouldn't have seen the
wave and not towed me.

He would have done
exactly the same.

Sometimes it does seem unfair
that it's just the surfer

that gets the
recognition, you know?

But I never at
any point was like

like, jealous or bitter.

I was, like, quite the
opposite, you know?

Garrett had the
objective to be the one

to ride the biggest wave,
and that's what happened.

And it almost felt
like it was meant to be

in a strange way.

But you can never predict
who will be the one

that gets it.

Some days when there's
multiple massive waves ridden,

it's almost unfair to say,

"Oh, such and such
rode the biggest one,"

whenever everybody else also
rode equally gigantic waves

that might have been a foot
bigger or a foot smaller.

But on this day, Garrett's
wave, without doubt,

was the biggest of the day.

He was the one in the
place at the time.

Cotty spun around onto the wave

and put Garrett right
onto the center of it,

and he looked like he
was in the perfect spot

at the perfect time.

Everything was sort of perfect.

Couldn't have been
better. It's perfect.

Say perfect one more time.

- Perfect!

Yeah, we had a good

good few years together.

The reason Cotty and I
have got so far with it

and feel so confident with it

is because we've
always been together.

And a lot of other
guys out there,

maybe they haven't got a
solid partner they work with.

They change partners a
lot or wherever they go

get a different partner.

Cotty and I have
always been together.

It's made us a good team.
It's made us strong.

Like, I knew whenever...
Garrett and I come off the ski

the other day, and the ski
washed up on the beach,

I knew he was
coming in somewhere.

I just knew in my mind
that whatever he could do,

he would get to me.

And you don't have that
trust in everybody.

And you need to have
that belief and bond

with somebody in
situations like that.

At the time, it
felt like, you know,

you and Cotty were a unit.

Was there a reason that you
stopped working together?

I can't comment on his reasons

and his actions and
what decisions he took

with his surfing,
his surfing career.

For me, I wanted to
return to Ireland

and focus on my own projects.

He clearly wanted to
focus on something else.

That's up to him.

I've gone back to
Nazaré a few times,

but it's definitely
not my focal point.

There's far more to
life than focusing

on one big wave
spot in the world,

in my personal opinion.

We did, like, two
seasons down in Portugal,

and then he wanted
to spend more time

sort of just in Ireland.

Al had a business
and work commitments.

You know, I didn't
have a business.

I knew that I didn't
want to be plumbing.

I just saw it as an opportunity.

It was now or never.

To have that opportunity
to surf with Garrett

and tow him and
be taught by him,

I wasn't gonna pass that up.

You know, there's no way.

When Garrett broke
the world record,

I knew at that point
in my surfing career

that I wasn't ready.

I couldn't have surfed that
wave like Garrett surfed it.

Wouldn't have surfed
it like he'd surfed it.

But now I could surf that
wave how I want to surf it.

And I'm more ready now.

At some point, I want
to have that ride.

I want to get that
wave of my life.

I'll be devastated if I
don't get an opportunity

to have that moment, you
know, to have that wave.

There will be the day when
you put it all on the line.

When the day comes,
it's just being ready.