Robby Naish: windsurfing legend and kiteboarding pioneer | Photo: Red Bull

Robby Naish, 54, has been inducted into the National Sailing Hall of Fame (NSHOF), at the New York Yacht Club, in Newport.

The windsurfing legend and seven other inductees were honored for the impact they have had in sailing. The National Sailing Hall of Fame has now enshrined 65 sailors.

Robert Staunton Naish was born on April 23, 1963, in La Jolla, San Diego, California. He started windsurfing at the age of 11 when his family moved to Oahu's Kailua, Hawaii.

Two years later, in 1976, he won the first world title of his long and successful career. Naish competed in the pro circuits run by the Professional Boardsailors Association (PBA), and later by the Professional Windsurfing Association (PWA).

In 1981, Robby graduated from high school. And he had to make a tough career decision.

"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," explained Robby Naish.

Robby Naish: he started windsurfing in Kailua at the age of 11 | Photo: Red Bull

"As sailors, we're very lucky to be out there in the wind and the waves. 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 the university and turned pro." 

But Robby Naish is more than just a windsurfer. He also pioneered the sport of kiteboarding. In 1998 and 1999, the Californian added slalom and jumping world titles to his trophy room.

"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," underlined American yachtswoman and 2015 NSHOF inductee Jennifer J. Fetter.

"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."

At the age of 54, Robby Naish is one of the oldest professional watermen in the world, and he will continue introducing innovations to water sports, whether via competition or product development.

The 2017 National Sailing Hall of Fame inductees are Bill Bentsen, Bill Martin, Clark Mills, Corny Shields, Randy Smyth, Ray Hunt, Robby Naish, and Tom Whidden.