The history of the 100-foot wave dream

October 29, 2013 | Surfing
Big wave surfing: the 100-foot wave is the ultimate goal

One hundred feet - that's precisely 30.40 meters. Roughly, it also means a 10-story building. Surfers have been chasing the perfect number for more than 80 years.

Big wave surfing may have begun in Makaha, on the West coast of Oahu, Hawaii, with the first rides being attributed to George Downing, Buzzy Trent, and Woodbridge Brown.

In the early days, surfboards were heavy and hard to steer on the fast Hawaiian walls.

With the advent of guns - big wave surfboards - Greg Noll and friends managed to raise the bar to 35-foot waves. Not bad at all.

But the act of riding giants lost momentum in the final years of the 1960s.

The rebirth of big wave surfing only came in the mid-1980s with a group of Waimea daredevils.

The tow-in experiences led by Laird Hamilton brought XXL surf to the media spotlight.

Ken Bradshaw is the first man to go for it. On July 28, 1998, Bradshaw took care of an 85-foot wave, at Outside Log Cabins reef, in Waimea Bay.

The height was never officially recognized, but it opened the way for the 100-foot wave race.

In fact, there were a large number of big-wave surfers who could have made it.

Miguel Del Toro, Peter Mel, Flea, Dan Malloy, the Wormhoudt brothers, Grant Baker, Shane Dorian, and Mark Healey have nearly scored the perfect big bomb.

On January 5, 2008, at Cortes Bank, Mike Parsons set a new world record for the biggest wave of all time at 77 feet.

Garrett McNamara steals it in 2011 after riding a 78-footer (23.77 meters) at Praia do Norte, Nazaré, Portugal.

In January 2013, he may have improved it, but the mark was never officially submitted as a potential record-breaker.

Nine months later, Carlos Burle and Andrew Cotton get the most out of a historic day in Portuguese waters as they both ride a similar giant in the Nazaré Canyon.

Has the 100-foot wave been surfed?

Discover the 10 commandments of the big wave surfer and take a look at the best big wave surfers of all time.

The Surfing Christmas Gift Guide for 2023 | Explore our Christmas gift ideas for surfers