The second to the newest Rybovich next to the second to the oldest Rybovich (Hull #2 “Legend”) which will be on display at the 2012 RyboRendezvous in October

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.

The 4 Rybovich Men – from left: Emil, Tommy, Johnny and Pop Rybovich – circa 1960’s

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.

Designer/builder Tommy Rybovich is shown speaking to customer, Mr. Johnson. Johnny is behind Tommy. Emil is standing to the right, alongside Pop. Photo shot in 1956. Charley Johnson was an extremely important Rybo customer who took a chance on the Rybovich boys by commissioning Hull #1. Mr Johnson commissioned 4 Rybo’s over the years: Hull #1, 8, 21, and 29

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.

The boat that started it all: Rybovich Hull #1, “Miss Chevy II” commissioned by Charley Johnson. She was splashed in 1947 Rybovich Hull #1 is the world’s first true sportfishing boat. Hull #1 was the start of the Rybovich legacy, and she helped spark the sportfishing industry.

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).

1954 Hull #13 the Bimini Babe commissioned by Bob Maytag (heir to the washing machine fortune). It’s the first of 2 “Bimini Babes” he commissioned
The image appeared on the cover of “Sports Afield” magazine, February 1960

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.

A photo of several vintage Rybo’s on display at the Rendezvous. These boats were built in the 50s and 60s and are representative of the boats to be on display at Sunset Bay in October. – Photo courtesy of Anthony Cavaciuti

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

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.


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29 Responses to “Rybovich: The Stuff of Legend For Over 90 Years – The History, The Book & RyboRendezvous #5”
  1. Greg Lewandowski

    Really great story about a builder that I never heard of before. It sounds like Pat is the Chris Smith of the Florida sportfishing boat world. Marianne and I have been talking about a fall get away weekend. I wonder if Palm Beach in October would work.

  2. Sean

    Similarly, the name “Rybovich” was familiar to my ear, but I had no idea why….thanks for the great story and history lesson! Can’t wait for the movie.

  3. Jim Frechette

    Apparently there is quite a connection between Rybovich and Chris Craft. According to some people, Chris Craft basically stole the design of one of the Rybovich boats (#13?) and built their own until stopped by a court order. Then both companies joined forces to produce several boats called Chrisovich. Google Chrisovich for some interesting discussion. Truth or fiction?

  4. Chris / Hagerty

    Yes there are a few “Chrisovich’s” out there, some were custom aftermarket refit / redesigns to emulate the famos Rybovich boats. They have long been one of my favorate boats, and the overall design for the modern Sportfish owes to the Brothers designs.

  5. John Rothert

    absolutely there are chrisovich’s around….I have seen a few in my day….really cool.

    John in Va.

  6. Rick

    Easy to spot the sweet water guys on the forum when they go Rybo? The Ryboviches and Scopoviches were the boats of my youthful dreams. During shark tournaments at the local marinas we’d go down as much to see the sharks brought in as much as the boats that traveled up and down the east coast following the tournements the Rybo’s and Scop’s being highlights and easily distinguishable from the more common Eggs, Hatteras’ and Vikings. To this day I think those early Ryboviches have a timeless style.

  7. Scott Robinson

    Hi Texx, So, are you going? I,d love to go,maybe I can link this trip with going back to New Hampshire for Indian Summer and boating, Scooter

  8. Pat Curtin

    When I started to work on yachts as crew in the 60’s, I was mate on a 37ft Rybovich called the SEVEN DAYS and the captain was Freddy Voss. The owner of that boat was having a new Rybo being built.
    A few years later, I got my masters license from the Coast Guard and then ran a 30 ft Rybo named GALE SONG for a man named Jim Weimes of FT. Lauderdale. Mr Weimes also owned a 85 ft Trumphy named Windsong which I also ran.
    Back then, everyone involved in sport fishing knew the name Rybovich but we just called them Rybo’s
    It was a sad day when Tom Rybovich died. I think a lot of the company died that day also.
    They were great boats in their day and still are good today.
    Pat Curtin

  9. Pat Rybovich

    Wow—awesome article!
    I’m thrilled Matt + Texx wanted to share the rich Rybo story…thank you! Texx includes my comment “I’m obsessed” and it ain’t far from true!

    Regarding the comments about Chrisovich: you guys got it right. After initial problems with copying my dad’s lines, the Rybovich brothers decided to add Rybo-perfection to unfinished Chris Craft hulls. They’re called “Chrisovich” but with no formal agreement between the two companies.

    There’s another interesting story about Rybovich copies you’ll enjoy:
    In the early days Rybovich boats flocked to the tournament in Havana. At the 1951 Tournament– in the dead of night– Rybo Hull #10 was pulled out of the water by Havana’s tiny Neptune Boat Yard. The Rybo was measured, templates made, photographed and plunked back in its berth by sunrise. A year later my Uncle Johnny returned to Havana only to find the Rybo clone—FURIOUS is putting it mildly!

    Only a handful of these clones were built, but they’re the spittin’ image with a great name, “Cubavich.” I’m happy to say that along with the dozen vintage Rybo’s on display you’ll find a 1957 Cubavich!

    Pat, Seven Days is the 1955 Hull #18, originally Timid Tuna—she’s considered one of the finest of the famous Rybo 36-footers. She’s in the middle of a restoration and won’t be able to join us but we’ll have a couple of the much-coveted Rybo 36-footers on display, including the 1959 Rybo owned by Alan Jackson(!)

    You can see pics of these boats and much more on the free eBook at It’s HUGE with 100 pages of the 608 page book…enjoy!

  10. Texx

    It’s so much fun to learn about the connections our viewers have to classic marques like Rybovich.

    This morning I received an e-mail from my friend and long time fellow Woody Boater Tom Addis. Tom commented…

    Texx – Glad to see you discover Rybovich boats!

    We had hull #37 at our home in Newport Beach for years. Jim Busby purchased #24 and #16 and are docked at his home on Balboa Island (Newport Beach).

    Small World Department: Hulls # 24 and #37 were each built for Bev Smith, a Ford Dealer in Florida. What are the odds that these two Rybo’s would both end up in the same California harbor belonging to two good friends, and by the way, I have been a Ford Dealer for 37 years!

  11. Pat Chaps

    Great to see Rybovich on the Woody boater web site.
    I have a copy of the Rybovich book, it’s fantastic.
    If you’re in Michigan and would like to read it I rent it out for
    $20 per hour. Just kidding it’s well worth the price.

    Pat, thanks for letting us know that the Alan Jackson 36 ft express is going to be at the Rendezvous, I’m checking on flights to Stuart right now.
    Do you know if the 30ft express named Release is going to be there?

    Still looking for a Rybovich sighting in Michigan.

  12. Jim Godlewski

    WOW! You need to check out the gallery on the Rybovich web site and see the size of these beauties. Wood galore….

  13. Texx

    One detail I wanted to include in this story and forgot (due to late night / early morning story preparation) that needs to be noted.

    On the home page of the Michael Rybovich & Sons Boat Works website they say…

    “We continue to subscribe to the same philosophy — Listen, think, and create. We are here to build a better boat. It’s as simple as that.”

  14. floyd r turbo

    Saw my first close up of a Rybo when Larry Mullins brought his to the St John’s River Cruise first day luncheon at the Outback Crab Shack. I thought it was a ’59 back then but I see I was either wrong or he found a ’49. Knowing Larry, the older one was in the wings. They have such classic, timeless lines. That forefoot of the boat in the picture is deeeep and those walk boards have seen some use. Must have been pretty hot in a West Palm summer in that shop. Looks like the fan isn’t even plugged in in the background, lol.

    The sample pictures are the most incredible boat porn I’ve seen. thanks to Pat and Rybo for making it available, now to beg my family for a Christmas/birthday/anniversary/Father’s Day/ present for the next 10 yrs. I promise, that’s all I’ll ever ask for.

  15. Alex

    Thank you Pat, Texx, and others for broadening my wooden boat knowledge.

    Never seen one of these in person, but they sure look beautiful (in that untouchable, Matthews Martinique kind of way). Meaning (sigh) I’ll never own one.

    Always worthwhile and fascinating to learn about a boating pioneer too. In that vein, this story reminds me of the Curtis story WB ran last winter.

  16. Jacob

    Great story & photos, thanks for pulling this together Texx! Always liked the design of them.


  17. Pat Rybovich

    Fascinating chatter about Larry Mullins—the finest Rybo-guy there be!
    You guys are right that he’s had two Rybo’s: The first was the 1960 30-foot Rybo Hull #43, FRISKY (he renamed RELEASE). A jazzy little boat with a fascinating story– she’s the world’s first cold-molded boat. Still in Bristol condition, my dad would be surprised to hear that his little guiena-pig of wood & glue is still going strong after some 52 years.

    And today Larry is the owner (or custodian as some put it) of the oldest Rybo in existence, the 1949 37-foot Rybo Hull #2, LEGEND. This is the boat featured in the photo above—the little mouse-sized boat chased by the big cat! My cousin Michael Rybovich restored LEGEND to perfection and the big breathtaking beauty (the cat!) is Michael’s 2008 72-foot Rybo Hull #125 PERSISTENCE.

    Both LEGEND and FRISKY will be on display along with a dozen of my dad’s finest at the upcoming RyboRendezvous in the Palm Beaches, this October—Admission is free & you’re invited to join us! Event details will be posted on the Rybovich book website, It’s a weekend lovers of Rybovich won’t want to miss — I hope to see you there!!

    • Pat Curtin

      I was the captain on GALE SONG ll in 1970 & 1971
      The owner was Jim Weems of Ft. Lauderdale
      Looking at your book, her first name was FRISKY
      She was gas powered with twin V8’s and had a generator
      I left Mr Weems to run a Burger for a man in Miami
      The Burger’s name was GRAY FOX and the man had just bought her from was Jim Kimberly. I am sure you know who he was

      • Pat Rybovich

        Hi Pat–
        Looks like you captained the boat we were talking about, above: the 1960 little 30-footer, Hull #43 FRISKY. She’s legendary, as she’s the world’s first cold molded boat & is scheduled to be on display at the RyboRendezvous!

        And Jim Kimberly: You bet I know who he is! He was a great lover of Rybovich and commissioned Hull #49, BLUE FOX. The boat was later owned by Lowenbrau and now Anheuser Bush. Today she’s called MISS BUDWEISER. She’ll be on display at the RyboRendezvous, too!

        Kimberly was heir to the Kimberly-Clarke (Kleenex) fortune—a very cool guy in the swingin’ 60s (and the object of my school girl crush!)

        So Pat, if you’re able to make it you’ll find both FRISKY and BLUE FOX at the event—I hope to see you at the RyboRendezvous!

  18. Grant Stanfield

    I received my copy of RYBOVICH in June and I can assure you it is well worth the purchase price if you’re a big fan of classic wooden powerboats. The story of the Rybovich family’s rise to pre-eminence in the world of sportfishing boats is really spellbinding and Pat Rybovich knows better than anyone the behind-the-scenes story of the Rybovich brand. The book is absolutely incredible to read (you’ll get sore if you hold it in your lap so use a table- 20 pounds!!) and the photography is absolutely amazing. Here’s a link to Pat’s e-reader flip-book so you can sample some of the 600+ pages:

    • Pat Rybovich

      Hi Grant,
      Thanks for the kind words & I’m thrilled you love the book—that’s music to my ears!
      It might be a cliché but creating the book was truly “a labor of love.” As the old-timers who worked shoulder-to- shoulder with my dad are now in their 80s and 90s, the yard’s history needed to be recorded before they leave us. Unfortunately the boatyard kept no records of the yard’s 93-year history, only photos (mostly ancient 1950s slides!) found in a dusty shoebox or two.

      So the job of tracking down photos of the 126 Rybo’s built to this day took a solid 4 years. To find photos my days were spent chasing the thinnest of leads: try to track down a guy who someone remembers had a friend whose brother-in-law once worked on a Rybo. In desperation I even begged a bitter ex-wife to share a boat pic from the family photo album (no luck!)

      So little wonder why the Credits Page lists HUNDREDS of names—the book was a joint project of Rybo lovers from all over the world.

      So that’s the story behind the book’s creation & as a lover of Rybovich, Grant I’m delighted to hear the book hits all the right notes!

      • Gary Lane

        Dear Pat,

        I had the pleasure of fishing on Tibby Bartram’s 36′ Tintinajo with Capt. Stash in the late 80’s. And living here in So.California, I knew Ted Naftzger and his Hustler, and bought a pair of spreader riggers from Jim Busby…

        All the best

        Gary Lane

  19. Jim Connelly

    Great article and tribute to the Rybovich marque and keeper of the legend, Pat. Tom Addis was a great custodian as is Jim Busby, great to know that they are as passionate about fresh water boats as salt water vessels. You only have to step on board to feel the craftsmanship and sea going ability of these unbelieveable floating works of art. Thanks

    • Texx

      Thank Jim – One day soon, I hope to have the opportunity to experience a Rybo in person, under way, on a warm day, for an extended period of time…

      Pat’s beautiful book was an inspiration as well.

  20. Jimmy Lee Smith

    To Pat Rybovich:

    My twin brother (Jimmy and Timmy Smith) were the youngest children of Betty Marie Smith (later known to all at Rybovich as Betty Smith Lance, after she married Capt John (Jack) H. Lance who captained many Rybovich yachts for decades. Our mother started as a secretary at Rybovich in the late 60’s / early 70’s and she passed away of cancer at the age of 47 and at that time was the Treasurer of Rybovich & Son’s boat works before (and after) Mr. Fisher purchased the company. My twin and I earned money many summers while out of high school cleaning/washing the awesome lines of Custom Rybovich Yachts as they sat moored under the concrete arched covers (before Mr. Fisher built the Helicopter Pad at the far end). In fact Timmy and I were in one of the few Rybovich Marina commercials in the early/mid 1980’s. Capt Jack (our step father) kept a 20′ Wellcraft center console (the Betty Marie) at the Rybo Marina with in and out service where we spent many summer weekends camping out on Peanut Island. We lost mom to cancer in our 2nd year of college and then Capt. Jack took his life several years after that. Tommy, Emil, Johnny to us…were always…Mr. Rybovich. The Rybovich’s family without a doubt…remarkable historians in the designing and building of incredible sportfishing yachts…but what most don’t know and I speak with experience, they were hard working yes but also an extremely compassionate family. My family was fortunate to be around this family during the most exciting times between the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s,