It’s a common knowledge that every sport has its own local heroes, and windsurfing is no exception. Of course, whilst these guys might not be household names for most people, if you’re into windsurfing in a big way then you’ll probably have heard of them. From World Record holders to World Champions turned entrepreneurs or 13-year-old prodigies – these three men have done more than anyone to elevate the sport of windsurfing in the public consciousness, and they well-earned to have their names remembered.
This Frenchman is the windsurfing king of speed, having held the World Record for the fastest velocity in 2008 and 2012. He set that most recent record of 52.05 knots, or 59.9mph, during Namibia’s Lüderitz Canal Speed Challenge.
Born in La Rochelle in 1972, Albeau has also completed a windsurf crossing of the English Channel; a 75-mile trip which took just over six hours. He is also known for his ability to smoothly table top, a windsurfing manoeuvre that is notoriously hard to pull off consistently.
This Argentinian former World Champion is now one of the most successful producers of Windsurfing equipment, apparel and fashion in the game. His company Goya Windsurfing is the go-to supplier for many hobbyists and professionals.
Now based in the windsurfing mecca of Maui in Hawaii, Goya is earning some well-deserved relaxation and, of course, windsurfing – after winning two World Championships and a host of other trophies in the early 2000s.
He was the first to break the 17-year dominance of Robby Naish and Bjorn Dunkerbeck to the title and bought a much-needed breath of fresh life to the scene. And he did it all from humble beginnings as an 18-year-old independent traveller too. Truly a legend of the Windsurfing scene.
Born in 1963, Robby Naish was another immigrant to the surfer’s paradise of Hawaii. His father Rich Naish, also a competitive surfer, moved his family from California to the Pacific island when Robby was just eight years old.
By the time he reached 13 years old in 1976 he was already a World Champion windsurfer – and the youngest champion in the sport’s history, to this day. Robby would go on to win an astonishing 23 World Championship medals over the next decade, taking the overall title four times in a row between 1983 and 1987.
These achievements make him one of the most recognisable and legendary names in the sport. He was inducted into French Watersports Hall of Fame as ‘The Boarder of the Millennium’ in the year 2000 and has been the subject of no-less-than two feature-length documentaries – the Windsurfing Movie and the Windsurfing Movie 2, which premiered in 2010.
Later in life, Naish has also taken up the sport of kiteboarding. Similar to windsurfing and jet skiing, kiteboarding uses an aerial kite for wind-based movement rather than a fixed sail. As if you weren’t expecting it already – Robby won World Championship medals in that sport as well in 1998 and 1999.