Robby Naish rides "The Longest Wave"

July 28, 2021 | Windsurfing
Robby Naish: one of the greatest windsurfers of all time | Photo: Naish Archive

Over the course of 40 years, professional waterman, Robby Naish, won over 150 tournament victories and became a 24-time world champion.

His purpose in life every day was about competing and being an exceptional athlete.

So now in his 50s, as he figures out what to accomplish next in his life, "The Longest Wave" documentary sheds light on his career during the transition from competing to life after professional sport, a perspective rarely documented.

From award-winning director Joe Berlinger ("The Cecil Hotel," "Paradise Lost," "Brother's Keeper," "Metallica: Some Kind of Monster and "Crude") the new windsurfing documentary film, "The Longest Wave," debuts worldwide on August 2021.

Berlinger departs from the true-crime drama to dive into a world totally unfamiliar to him.

"The Longest Wave" transcends the action sports genre by capturing obstacles outside of the legendary athlete's professional life in an intimate, cinéma-vérité style, revealing Robby balancing the pursuit of excellence at sea with the demands of life's challenges on land, including family, injuries, getting older and the risks of continuing to participate in considerably dangerous sports.

Robby Naish: he won his first windsurfing world title aged 13 | Photo: Naish Archive

The Ultimate Waterman

Robby Naish won his first windsurfing world title aged 13, and he has been at the forefront of windsurfing, kitesurfing, paddleboarding and, more recently, foil boarding.

He admits that "the exhilaration he felt as the only kid competing against 400 adults was "cool," and looks back at a time when mobile comms didn't exist and traveling at that age without a parent was commonplace, adding that its "inconceivable his parents would have allowed a lot of it today?"

Legendary status didn't just happen, it took years of competing competitively and a deep love for what he does, and Berlinger poses the question, did Naish do it alone, or were there people helping him along for the ride, keeping him focused and remaining current, supporting the need to evolve with age, experience and a changing landscape of competitive new talent and players at sea.

"The whole world has changed since I started. If you look at the water sports landscape, from 1974 when I started windsurfing or even younger as a young surfer to now, the world's a much smaller place," underlines Naish.

"Everything is right there on the internet. Like there's no more mystery."

"We used to get on a plane, fly somewhere and cross our fingers that we were going to find wind and waves, but have no idea what we were going to get."

"Now you can look and see what the forecast is anywhere in the world tomorrow and next week. Is there surf coming? How warm is it going to be? What's the swell direction? Where are we going to stay?"

"So that sense of adventure is gone, but there's certainly a lot more information and an opportunity. The world's a tiny place now compared to what it used to be," adds the waterman.

Robby Naish: windsurfing, kiteboarding, and foil boarding pioneer | Photo: Naish Archive

Time to Stop?

Berlinger goes further, exposing what happens when a 24-time world champion from Hawaii, who paved the way for new extreme sports, is told to stop.

Does the clock stop ticking, and all you have worked for come to an abrupt end?

Robby is far from ready for his life to lose the meaning and purpose he's always leaned upon.

"The Longest Wave" is a film that looks at the man behind the sports he grew, and who has reached what he is told is his last goal, his final title.

The movie captures the story of the man continuing his quest for brilliance by challenging himself to ride the world's longest wave, yet unexpectedly reveals his vulnerabilities as a businessman, an innovator who is constantly crafting and developing, as a mentor for upcoming talent, and as a father who's been on the road many days of his daughters' lives.

Robby talks of "having no regrets, loving hard and accepting that with the highs come the lows."

"The Longest Wave" captures a sportsman still in his prime, one that has traveled from teen to legend but isn't ready to rest his board just yet.

The movie debuts on August 10, 2021, on Red Bull TV.

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