Our Story

My imageIt’s a uniquely American success story: Three self-made brothers rise from humble beginnings to create the finest sportfishing yachts the world has ever seen. With simple hand-tools and a dream, the three Rybovich brothers, Johnny, Tommy and Emil splashed the 1947 Rybovich Hull #1. Little did they know but the launch of Tommy's first attempt at boatbuilding -- acknowledged as the world’s first true* sportfishing boat -- would spark today’s billion dollar sportfishing industry.

1947 RYBO HULL #1 -- The world’s first sportfishing boat

“Miss Chevy II” stunned the world as being the world’s first true* sportfishing boat Rybo Hull #1 boasted the world’s first Rybovich fighting chair. And the world’s first aluminum outriggers. And she zoomed ahead of the crowd, racing at over 20 knots! Commissioned by Charlie Johnson. *Many boats were used for sportfishing but they were modified pleasure boats, such as Hemmingway’s “Pilar.” “Pilar” was a Wheeler “Playmate” pleasure boat given multiple adaptations to fulfill Hemingway’s passion for the sport. Rybovich Hull #1 is acknowledged as the world’s first boat built specifically for the sport of billfishing. 

“MIss Chevy IV” also stunned the sportfishing world with her many world’s “Firsts.” She featured the world's first aluminum tuna tower. Along with the world’s first transom door. As well as having the first Rybovich signature ‘broken sheer.’ And she boasted the modern Rybovich fighting chair. None of the Rybovich inventions were patented, and are freely used by boatbuilders to this day. Commissioned by the always adventurous Charlie Johnson, these are the first 2 of his many Rybo’s. Note: Rybo Hull #8 was confiscated by Fidel Castro, and was said to be his favorite sportfishing boat!  


From L to R:  Tommy (designer/builder) Charlie Johnson, Johnny, Emil, and Pop

The birth of this classic 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 mahogany masterpiece, blending technological innovation, speed and performance with his futuristic signature style. In 1961—as Fortune magazine declared Tommy's work “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, plus a handful of crooks & gangsters from Tony Accardo (Al Capone’s second in command) to Meyer Lansky, and Bernie Madoff to keep things interesting! 

The video below is a little snippet from the PBS show where we discuss how “wildly” different the 3 Rybovich brothers were -- little wonder their battles were legendary! (It’s just a 3 minute clip from the 1 hour PBS show, that loops

From Right to Left:   Pop, Johnny, Tommy (my father) and Emil

In the documentary, I mention that my dad was a WWII bomber pilot in Italy, and when he had the chance he sent sketches home to his mom. But the video has an error. The drawing shown in the video is a blueprint drawn by Jack Hargrave. My dad didn’t know how to draw a blueprint, so Jack Hargrave was brought aboard to record my dad’s boats – after they were already built!. (A backwards approach, but Johnny needed something to show potential customers).

Below is a sketch drawn by my dad that should have been shown in the video. This is the sketch Mr. Johnson saw, and famously said “Tommy build your dream!” And in 1947 Rybovich Hull #1 became a reality.

The sketch of what would become the world’s first sportfishing boat.

He drew the sketch on the back of a B-17 bomber Flight Exam (which he ‘aced’ of course!) This sketch is significant as it shows the plans for the world’s first sportfishing boat, But what’s interesting to me is the airplane he also drew. My dad was a landlubber with no interest in boating or fishing. His passion was flight. A friend of mine, Francesco, not only teaches naval architecture in Italy, but is also an expert in vintage aircraft. After looking at this sketch Francesco said, “Pat, your dad was not only a genius boat designer, he was also a genius airplane designer!” He said that the airplane in the drawing does not exist, it is Tommy’s creation. And in describing my dad’s graceful lines said, “She has the wings of a mosquito.” (I love that)