An award-winning documentary will tell the fascinating story of how a man, George Freeth, believed to have had Irish ancestry, and who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery, is credited with making the sport of surfing the success it is today.

Waveriders, on BBC One Northern Ireland on Monday, May 10, will also follow some of the world's top surfers back to George Freeth's ancestral home providing viewers with stunning footage of them tackling 60 feet monster waves off the west coast of Ireland - the biggest waves ever surfed there.

Filmed in Hawaii, California, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, Waveriders features the stunning scenery where some of the world's top surfers come to catch a wave. The distinguished cast includes Irish and UK surf champion Easkey Britton from Rossnowlagh and top professional surfers Richard Fitzgerald from Bundoran, Alastair Mennie, Gabriel Davies, nine-time world champion Kelly Slater, and famed surf writer Kevin Naughton.

Surfing is one of the fastest growing sports on the island of Ireland but many people's perception of it is its association with sun, sea, sand and California. However, it's a widely held view that George Freeth, whose father left Ireland in the late 1870s, played a pivotal role in popularising it. Freeth is credited with re-introducing the ancient Polynesian art of wave riding in Hawaii at the start of the 20th century.

The one-hour documentary at 10.35pm on BBC One Northern Ireland hears from surfing historians who look back at how Freeth helped transform something that was a little-known ancient art into a sport with its own culture and which captured the psyche of North America in the early 1900s. It reveals that Freeth is regarded as the first true life guard - his methods shaping the profession into how we see it today - and how his heroics in helping save the lives of Japanese fishermen off the Californian coast earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Made by Inís Films and Besom Productions, Waveriders brings the surfing story right up to date charting how surfing became the phenomenon it is in Ireland today. It looks at why surfers from all over the world now come to catch waves recognised as some of the best in the world today.

Including breathtaking footage of surfing the legendary 'Aileens' below the Cliffs of Moher, viewers also get to see a group of the professionals take on the biggest waves ever surfed in Ireland off the coast of County Sligo.

Margo Harkin of Besom Productions said: "I couldn't quite believe my ears when director Joel Conroy brought me the story of how a man with Irish ancestry was the father of the modern sport of surfing. It was the start of an incredible adventure for all of us who became involved in the film as we made the connections between Hawaii and the north west coast of Ireland.

"I think the audience will be stunned to discover the magical world that is on our doorstep and to realise that our waters have been attracting the world's top surfers for some time. Some of the most beautiful scenes were filmed off the dramatic Antrim coast where the Atlantic swell is being enjoyed by growing numbers of local surfers year on year. I'm betting there will be a lot more surfers out there after viewers see the adventure that awaits them in Waveriders. With a great soundtrack, fascinating history and a dramatic, heart thumping monster wave climax I hope it gives viewers a real insight into surf culture, history and the inspiration for surfers." The film was financed by Bord Scannán na hÉireann/ The Irish Film Board, Northern Ireland Screen, the European Union through the Interreg IIIA Programme managed for the Special EU Programmes Body by the ICBAN Partnership, BBC Northern Ireland and the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland.