Maui Sports

Robbie Naish Inducted Into National Sailing Hall of Fame

September 27, 2017, 8:00 AM HST
* Updated September 27, 6:54 AM
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Presenters Bob Johnstone and Mason Chrisman, Bill Martin, Robby Naish, Tom Whidden, Corny Shields, Fred Mills, Berny Mills, Sham Hunt Randy Smyth and Timmy Larr. Credit: Stephen Cloutier.

On Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, the National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF) inducted windsurfing superstar Robbie Naish into its seventh class of honorees. Nash, who resides in Haiku, won his first world championship title at age 13 and went on to build a multi-million dollar waterspouts business.

The ceremony, which was hosted by New York Yacht Club, included eight inductees who were celebrated for the impact they have had on windsurfing. The NSHOF is dedicated to preserving the stories of these sailing heroes to inspire future generations.

“For over a quarter century in every discipline from slalom and wave riding to course racing, Robby Naish has a record that likely will never be matched,” said 2015 inductee JJ Fetter in her introduction of Naish. “Talent, hard work and determination have allowed him to transcend windsurfing and become a sports legend. Thank you, Robby, for challenging our concept of what is possible on the water with a sail, a board and some wind.”

Winning an airline ticket at a national championship when he was just 13 put Robby Naish on his eventual career path. When he graduated from high school in 1981, Naish had to make a choice. “I was a sailor at heart. I loved tactics, I loved feeling the shifts and reading the wind and catching the bumps, that feeling that you get from sailing that you don’t find anywhere else in life. As sailors, we’re very lucky to be out there in the wind and the waves,” said Naish.

“Windsurfing was going to turn olympic in 1984. And if you took a dollar, you were done, you weren’t going to the Olympics. It was a tough decision. I deferred admission to university and turned pro. That was the beginning of pro sailing and now, at 54, I’m one of the oldest professional athletes. For me this has been a path of luck, being in the right place at the right time and an appreciation of just how lucky I’ve got it. My message to you all is to remember how lucky you are. To be able to get out on the water and experience nature in a way that is difficult to experience any other way. Being on a boat, learning what the wind does, what the waves do…it’s an experience that not enough people in the world get to enjoy.”

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More information about the NSHOF 2017 inductees can be found online.

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