Class of 2017: Robbie Naish
Published on September 6th, 2017
The U.S. National Sailing Hall of Fame selected eight people in 2017 to join the 57 previously-recognized individuals who have been enshrined since the first class in 2011.
Among this group to be officially inducted on September 24 is windsurfing superstar Robby Naish (Haiku, Hawaii), who won his first world championship title at age 13 and went on to build a multi-million dollar watersports business. This tribute is provided by 2011 inductee Gary Jobson:
Robby Naish literally rode the wave of a new sport and created a professional career that is second to none in the athletic world of windsurfing.
In 1976 Robby’s father, Rick, was a surfer living in Hawaii who inspired his 13-year-old son to try windsurfing. At 13 years of age, young Robby won this first of 24 world titles.
To understand how intense windsurfing in big waves can be, simply google Robby Naish, and you will be treated to many amazing videos on YouTube. His specialty is wave riding. Naish won the Overall World Championships between 1983 and 1987 and won another three championships on the Professional Windsurfing Association circuit in 1988, 1989 and 1991. Naish has been called “royalty” by his peers.
For 20 years Robby pioneered tremendous media interest in windsurfing. During this period he won 150 events. His aerial maneuvers were breathtaking. Many snow boarders created similar routines in the mountains. Every ocean wave and gust of wind is different. He was a master of creating something unique every time he was out on the water.
After retiring from the professional tour, he established Naish Sails Hawaii/Nalu Kai, Inc. and began manufacturing high performance windsurfing and kiteboarding equipment. Distributors sell his products in over 60 countries.
Naish’s list of honors and awards is long. He has appeared in two windsurfing movies including the adrenaline-packed R.I.P. considered one of the best films about the genre of all time. When kiteboarding first came on the surf scene in the 1990s, Naish was one of the first to embrace the new discipline. And, as you might expect, won early titles in 1998 and 1999.
In recent years Robby has been working on foils and stand up paddle boards. He reports, “foiling certainly opens up a whole new world of surfing. I am still learning, but having fun.”
In late 2015 Naish broke his pelvis while landing after a big jump. It was his first serious injury. It took a year of therapy to recover. He credits his family for helping him get back out on the water. On his popular Facebook page, Robby observed, “The level of competition has gotten really high over the last few years. It sure feels great to still be out there mixing it up with the latest generation of windsurfing professionals.”