Last updated
Waveriders FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Joel Conroy
Produced by Margo Harkin
Written by Joel Conroy
Lauren Davies
Starring Richie Fitzgerald,
Gabe Davies,
Kelly Slater, Rabbit Kekai
Chris, Keith & Dan Malloy
Narrated by Cillian Murphy
Cinematography Daniel Trapp
Edited by Douglas Moxon
Nathan Nugent
Distributed by Element Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • 22 February 2008 (2008-02-22)(Dublin Film Festival)
  • 3 April 2009 (2009-04-03)
Running time
80 minutes
United Kingdom

Waveriders is a 2008 documentary film produced by Margo Harkin and directed by Joel Conroy.

Documentary film nonfictional motion picture

A documentary film is a nonfictional motion picture intended to document some aspect of reality, primarily for the purposes of instruction, education, or maintaining a historical record. "Documentary" has been described as a "filmmaking practice, a cinematic tradition, and mode of audience reception" that is continually evolving and is without clear boundaries. Documentary films were originally called 'actuality' films and were only a minute or less in length. Over time documentaries have evolved to be longer in length and to include more categories, such as educational, observational, and even 'docufiction'. Documentaries are also educational and often used in schools to teach various principles. Social media platforms such as YouTube, have allowed documentary films to improve the ways the films are distributed and able to educate and broaden the reach of people who receive the information.



Waveriders focuses on the Irish roots of surfing. The film covers the life of Irish-Hawaiian surfer George Freeth and his influence in popularizing surfing [1] in California and his contributions to lifeguarding. It also follows Irish, British and American surfers Richie Fitzgerald, Gabe Davies, Kelly Slater and the Malloy Brothers. The surfers conquer enormous sixty foot waves - the biggest swell to have been ridden off the Irish Atlantic Coast. [2]

George Freeth American surfer

George Douglas Freeth Jr. was an American Life Guard and Swimming Instructor credited as being the "Father of Modern Surfing".

Richie Fitzgerald is an Irish big-wave surfer.

Kelly Slater American surfer

Robert Kelly Slater is an American professional surfer, author, actor, model, environmental activist, businessman, and innovator, most well known for his unprecedented 11 world surfing championships.

Irish surfer Easkey Britton is also featured in the film and was the first female surfer to ride the "big wave", Aill na Searrach off the Cliffs of Moher in 2007. [3]

Dr. Easkey Britton, Ph.D is an Irish surfer from County Donegal with a doctorate in Environment and Society, University of Ulster.

Doolin Village in Munster, Ireland

Doolin is a coastal village in County Clare, Ireland, on the Atlantic coast. It borders the spa town of Lisdoonvarna. It is a noted centre of traditional Irish music, which is played nightly in its pubs, making it a popular tourist destination. There are numerous nearby archaeological sites, many dating to the Iron Age and earlier. Doonagore Castle and Ballinalacken Castle are also in the area. The area was officially classified as part of the West Clare Gaeltacht prior to the 1950s, and maintains a connection with Irish-speaking areas - including via its maritime connection with the Aran Islands.

Cliffs of Moher cliffs in Western Ireland, on the Atlantic shore

The Cliffs of Moher are sea cliffs located at the southwestern edge of the Burren region in County Clare, Ireland. They run for about 14 kilometres. At their southern end, they rise 120 metres (390 ft) above the Atlantic Ocean at Hag's Head, and, eight kilometres to the north, they reach their maximum height of 214 metres (702 ft) just north of O'Brien's Tower, a round stone tower near the midpoint of the cliffs, built in 1835 by Sir Cornelius O'Brien, then continue at lower heights. The closest settlements are Liscannor and Doolin.


Director Joel Conroy began planning the film in 2005 when he read about George Freeth in a newspaper. He researched Freeth's background, tracking down his friends and relatives. The film was in development for 3 years; filming was over 2 years. It was shot on 35mm film to give it a vintage feel. [2]

35mm movie film Motion picture film gauge

35 mm film (millimeter) is the film gauge most commonly used for motion pictures and chemical still photography. The name of the gauge refers to the width of the photographic film, which consists of strips 34.98 ±0.03 mm (1.377 ±0.001 inches) wide. The standard negative pulldown for movies is four perforations per frame along both edges, which results in 16 frames per foot of film. For still photography, the standard frame has eight perforations on each side.


Critical response

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 56% based on reviews from 16 critics. [4]

Rotten Tomatoes American review aggregator for film and television, owned by Fandango

Rotten Tomatoes is an American review-aggregation website for film and television. The company was launched in August 1998 by three undergraduate students at the University of California, Berkeley: Senh Duong, Patrick Y. Lee, and Stephen Wang. The name "Rotten Tomatoes" derives from the practice of audiences throwing rotten tomatoes when disapproving of a poor stage performance.


Waveriders won the 2008 Audience Choice Award from the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, [5] the 2009 Irish Film and Television Awards inaugural George Morrison Feature Documentary Award [6] and the Best Documentary Award at the 2009 SURFER Poll & Video Awards. [7]

Margo Harkin (Producer) and Joel Conroy (Director) were awarded Outstanding Achievement in film making for Waveriders at the 2009 Newport Beach Film Festival. [8]

See also

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Big wave surfing

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Riding Giants is a 2004 documentary film directed and narrated by Stacy Peralta, a famous skater/surfer. The movie traces the origins of surfing and specifically focuses on the art of big wave riding. Some of the featured surfers are Greg Noll, Laird Hamilton, and Jeff Clark, and surfing pioneers such as Mickey Munoz.

History of surfing

The riding of waves has likely existed since humans began swimming in the ocean. In this sense, bodysurfing is the oldest type of wave-catching. Standing up on what is now called a surfboard is a relatively recent innovation developed by the Polynesians.The influences for modern surfing can be directly traced to the surfers of pre-contact Hawaii.

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Joel Conroy is an Irish filmmaker.

Gabriel 'Gabe' Davies is a British big-wave surfer.

Margo Harkin Documentary film director

Margo Harkin is an Irish filmmaker. Best known for the drama Hush-a-Bye Baby and the documentary Bloody Sunday: A Derry Diary, Harkin produced the surfing documentary Waveriders in 2008.

Lauren Davies is a British novelist and screenwriter. Her screenwriting credits include the feature documentary Waveriders, which was awarded the 2008 Dublin International Film Festival Audience Award and was the IFTA winner for best Feature Documentary in 2009 She created the story for the innovative multi-platform game IAMPLAYR, which won the Cannes Gold Lion 2009. She wrote the documentary CLOUD 9 about 11-times world champion surfer, Kelly Slater, for Quiksilver. Her latest novel 'Swell' set in the glamorous world of professional surfing was released in 2015 on Amazon. Her first novel Serve Cool, published by Time Warner, was a top 10 debut novel of the year in 2001. Her novel Angel Air was long-listed for "romantic comedy of the year" by the Romantic Novelists' Association in 2003. In 2011, Lauren founded LOLA COVE FILMS to develop her own film projects. She produced the award-winning short BEYOND THE SCARS and now works as a screenwriter and producer.

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Cowaramup Bombora is a big wave open-ocean surf break found on the south-west coast of Western Australia. It is located 2 kilometres offshore west of Gracetown which is near the town of Margaret River, world-renowned for its surf, and is 265 km south of the capital city Perth.

Surfing in Ireland

Ireland has become increasingly popular as a surfing destination, due to its exposed location on the turbulent Atlantic seaboard.


  1. Caldwell, Johnny (2008-03-27). "Ulster roots man who gave world surfing". BBC News.
  2. 1 2 "Riding Green Giants". independent. 2009-07-07. Retrieved 2010-01-21.
  3. "The surfer girl who's making big waves", Independent, August 12, 2009
  4. "Waveriders" . Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  5. "Latest News" . Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  6. "Irish Film & Television Awards Winners Announced - The Irish Film & Television Network" . Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  7. "Latest News" . Retrieved 6 December 2016.
  8. "Newport Beach Film Festival (2009)" . Retrieved 6 December 2016.