It’s funny how some things stick in your mind… Last August, while attending the 2011 Regional Boat Show in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho I had the pleasure of meeting one of my motor racing hereos, Jim Busby. Jim is an accomplished road racer with numerous international wins to his credit including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and in the American IMSA Roadracing series throughout his remarkable racing career.
Jim was at the boat show with his beautifully restored 25′ Chris-Craft Express Cruiser “Katherine”. After sharing some great stories, Jim said “Hey Texx, if you are ever in the Southern California area, stop by and check out my classic wooden Rybovich sportfishing boat…”
For some reason, that name “Rybovich” stuck in my mind, although I didn’t have any idea what a “Rybovich” was… Until now. (According to the impressive Rybovich Boat Registry, Jim Busby owns “Desperado” (a 1955 36′) and “Sea Palms” (1956 31′) Rybovich – rarely seen on the west coast)
Last week we received a surprise e-mail from Pat Rybovich, the daughter of boatbuilder/designer Tommy Rybovich, the man who created the first luxury sportfishing boat in the Palm Beaches, back in the 1940s. Pat is the family “Rybovich” historian, and she is organizing the 5th Annual RyboRendezvous which will be presented by Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart Florida (just north of the Palm Beaches) on the weekend of October 13, 2012.
And on top of that, Pat has written a book (RYBOVICH) which celebrates the rich history of the 93-year old American made marque. Here’s her story…
Rybovich: The Stuff of Legend
by Pat Rybovich
In the world of boatbuilding, Rybovich is a name synonymous with excellence. Founded in West Palm Beach in 1919, Rybovich & Sons Boat Works splashed its first custom-built sportfishing boat in 1947. To this day the yard retains its iconic status as one of the oldest and most sought after boatbuilders in America.
With simple hand-tools and a dream, the birth of this classic heritage American company is a story steeped in history: the creation of the modern sportfishing yacht. While Ernest Hemingway pioneered big game fishing in Bimini during the 1940’s, Rybovich was there to show how the sport could be played in style.
Combining performance with high-life extravagance, owning a “Rybo” became the ultimate status symbol. Each was custom designed and built by Tommy Rybovich as a masterpiece, blending technological innovation, speed and performance with his futuristic signature style.
In 1949 Al Capone’s second in command (“Tough Tuna Tony Accardo”) commissioned Hull #2. Today she’s the oldest Rybo in existance. She’s the little cutie on today’s opening cover photo (the big one built by my cousin, Michael Rybovich). She’s in Bristol condition & will be on display at the upcoming Rybo event. Accardo’s daughter & granddaughter will be joining us as well (lovely folks!).
Rybo customers were business tycoons with familiar names like Firestone (his boat, “Tireless”). The jet-set folks coveted custom-built Rybos and sat on a waiting list for 10 years. In the book are pics of King Hussain (in speedos) fishing on a Rybo, back in the 60s…
In 1961—as Fortune magazine declared Rybovich “the Stradivarius of sportfishing boats”—the world’s most prominent sportsmen were already waiting in line alongside such brand-name tycoons as Firestone, Hutton, Ballantine, duPont, Gillette, and Maytag, (along with a handful of crooks & gangsters from Al Capone’s second in command to Bernie Madoff to keep things interesting).
Celebrating the boat yard’s colorful 93-year heritage, after five years of work, Pat Rybovich (daughter of Tommy Rybovich, the boat’s designer/ builder) recently completed her book (RYBOVICH) about the family boatyard which illustrates a behind-the-scene look at the remarkable stories behind each custom-built Rybo.
The massive 608 page, 20-pound limited edition 13″x15″ coffee table book features photographs and history, never before published until now of the boatyard, established in 1919 it’s one of the oldest boatyards in America.
The book delves deep into the history of the 79 boats built by the three Rybovich brothers, igniting newfound passion the world over for vintage Rybovich as a true collector’s item.
In our recent exchange of e-mails with Pat Rybovich as we were preparing today’s story, she noted – It’s a pretty fascinating story & as you can tell I’m totally & completely obsessed.
My dad died of lung cancer when I was 16 (non-smoker but as in the 50s he was the first to build a boat with epoxy and fiberglass, and the one who invented cold-molding in the 60s so the poor guy lived in a toxic soup) and so researching the Rybovich book has been an amazing way to reconnect to my dad. I launched the book about a year ago and even at a insane price ($350 and $700) they’ve been selling like hot cakes to Rybo-zealots.
So now I’ve switched gears & am I’m writing a screenplay. It’s an inspiring story about my dad and the struggles (the 3 brothers couldn’t stand each other) & triumphs of the boatyard. (Fortunately for me there are a couple Hollywood folks who happen to love Rybo’s, so it ain’t quite as crazy as it sounds…! – Pat)
Announcing RyboRendezvous #5
The World’s Largest Vintage Rybovich Rendezvous & first-ever Vintage Rybovich Boat Parade
WHERE: Sunset Bay Marina & Anchorage, Stuart FL (just north of the Palm Beaches)
WHEN: The weekend of Friday Oct 12 – Sunday Oct 14, 2012.
If you have a passion for gleaming varnish, polished stainless steel and the classic lines of ‘Rybo’ in her heyday, you won’t want to miss the upcoming vintage RyboRendezvous weekend hosted by Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart, Florida.
Hailed by Fortune magazine as “the Stradivarius of sportfishing boats,” Rybovich spirit comes alive as over a dozen vintage “Rybos” strut their stuff at the upcoming RyboRendezvous. Celebrating the iconic South Florida boatyard’s 93rd year, the 5th Annual RyboRendezvous will be presented by Sunset Bay Marina in Stuart Florida (just north of the Palm Beaches) on the weekend of October 13, 2012.
The annual vintage Rybovich weekend has grown into a top-tier event for fans of classic sportfishing yachts and this will be the world’s largest gathering of classic Rybo’s ever. More than a dozen of the most magnificent wooden boats ever built will be on display to the delight of classic yacht collectors and Rybovich enthusiasts. These one-of-a-kind boats—custom created by the three Rybovich brothers for such brand-name tycoons as Maytag, duPont and Firestone—will be exhibited in the chronological order of their launch date.
This important event features the oldest Rybo in existence, the historic Rybovich Hull #2 commissioned in 1949 by Al Capone’s second in command, Tony Accardo.
Saturday October 13, 2012 features a day of public events with a highlight being Saturday afternoon’s book presentation of the recently launched coffee table book RYBOVICH. Author Pat Rybovich, daughter of designer/builder Tommy Rybovich, shares the captivating story behind the creation of each vintage Rybo on display as the book is presented on the big screen.
Having grown up with the boatyard as her playground, Pat shares personal experiences at the yard along with stories behind the book’s creation. The 2012 event also includes displays of other collectibles such as nautical jewelry and marine art as well as fine food, beverages and music as visitors enjoy viewing the rarely seen classic Rybovich boats.
You’ll get a chance to see old friends and make new ones while chatting with impassioned vintage Rybovich owners who work to restore and display their prized one-of-a-kind sportfishing yachts. And don’t miss the chance to help determine who walks away with the coveted Spectator’s Choice Award!
On Sunday morning the remarkable celebration will come to a close with the Blessing of the Fleet and then it’s time for the classics to roar! The world’s first Vintage Rybovich Parade is the event’s grand finale as over a dozen vintage Rybo’s parade in chronological order down the St. Lucie River to the delight of spectators on the shore.
Breathtaking yachts, gleaming mahogany, the tropical setting of Sunset Bay Marina and South Florida’s crisp fall weather makes a winning combination. So plan on being in the Palm Beaches the weekend of October 13 to treat yourself to the sight of these rare and beautiful sportfishing boats as we celebrate 93 years of wooden boat passion. The event is free of charge and open to the public—it’s a Rybo event you won’t want to miss!
For more information on the event you can e-mail Pat Rybovich at [email protected]
We appreciate you sharing your story with us here at Woody Boater Pat, it was just wonderful. Thanks to you we now have a better understanding of the history & unique charactor of the timeless Rybovich marque.
For more information on Pat Rybovich, her book and the upcoming RyboRendezvous you can Click Here.
Also, take a few minutes to check out the very nice Michael Rybovich & Sons website by Clicking Here and then click on The Registry link on the top of the home page to scroll through and see the impressive history of the boats, where they are now and some of the influential people who once owned them and still own them today… It’s very cool stuff.