Today would have been Tommy Rybovich’s 94th birthday. He was born in West Palm Beach on Nov. 21, 1919, interestingly the very same year “Pop” founded the boatyard, Rybovich & Sons Boat Works.
To celebrate the big day, I’m sharing a never-before-seen Rybo treasure. For those of you who have read the Rybovich book, you might recall that during his years as a B-17 bomber pilot stationed in Italy during WWII, Tommy drew sketches of his vision of a sport-fishing boat sent home in letters to family. His sketches are part of my childhood memory but unfortunately I was unable to locate them before the book went to print. I’m thrilled to say that my sister Debby recently unearthed the treasure. It’s a military document (flight training paperwork — he sketched on top of a quiz) that reveals plans for the sport-fishing boat of his dreams.
It’s interesting to see how he sketched the slick aircraft lines alongside the lines of Hull #1. The two sketches, side-by-side, reveal the influence his love of aerodynamics had on his boat design. It’s also fascinating to see just how closely his wartime sketch foreshadows the actual creation of Rybo Hull #1, the 1947 Miss Chevy II, which launched five years later.
What’s important about his sketch is that we’re able to see Tommy’s vision for a sportfish boat — which years later (in 1947) would become Rybovich Hull #1.
Little did he know this 1942 war-era sketch scribbled on the back of a flight school exam would one day become the world’s first boat specifically created for the new sport of billfishing — the boat credited as the spark of today’s multibillion-dollar sport-fishing industry.
Although sadly in 1972 his life was cut short at age 52, today we celebrate the extraordinary life of Tommy Rybovich in photographs and one day soon on the silver screen.