Robby Naish // The Longest Wave

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

What at first appears a standard hero's journey story, promises something altogether different.

The first clue that 'The Longest Wave', the Robby Naish biopic, ain't your average sports film is that it's made by Joe Berlinger, best known for 'Metallica: Some Kind of Monster', which defied all metalhead stereotypes and cast the group in a new and peculiar light. Since then, Berlinger has worked on many movies and documentaries across a broad range of topics from serial killers to social justice. Conspicuously, he's never worked on a sports film.

On the subject side, they've been very few athletes as distinguished, dominating, and pioneering, as Robby Naish.

At age thirteen he won his first windsurfing world championship. He then went on to win 22 more. Even when windsurfing spread beyond the Hawaiian islands, booming across Europe and Scandinavia, the number of participants swelling, Naish remained at the pinnacle well beyond his fortieth birthday.

He had a hand in new board sports, such as foiling, stand up paddleboarding, and kitesurfing, where he also bagged three world championships - taking his tally to 26 world championships - and was the world's most versatile sailor/surfer until Kai Lenny showed up.

The drive to success harbours hidden demons, and it's here Berlinger digs among the bones. With his competitive career waning, and while navigating a difficult divorce and financial tumult, Naish proposes a new challenge: to surf the longest wave. With cameras running, Berlinger is afforded entry into Naish's private world, capturing an athlete whose already achieved legend status but struggles to adjust to a life more ordinary.

As the press release says, "'The Longest Wave' transcends the action sports genre by capturing obstacles outside of the legendary athlete’s professional life in an intimate, cinéma-vérité style, revealing Naish balancing the pursuit of excellence at sea with the demands of life’s complications on land."

'The Longest Wave' is in cinemas for a limited time across Australia from November 26 and December 2 across New Zealand. Tickets on sale now via www.thelongestwave.com.au

Comments

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Monday, 23 Nov 2020 at 10:51am

Are cinemas open again?

Stok's picture
Stok's picture
Stok commented Monday, 23 Nov 2020 at 11:15am

Kind of off topic, but I always find it weird how there seems to be a weird connection between alternative water based board sports such as windsurfing/kitesurfing/SUPing/Foiling - and almost an aversion to surfing for people who take up these activities. Naish is a famous example.

For example, I know plenty of windsurfers/kitesurfers who foil/SUP, but basically never surf. They also (somewhat disgracefully) refer to surfing as 'paddle surfing' or 'prone surfing'.

Can never understand why - to me they should be linked at the hip.

(of course I know examples of surfers who windsurf/kite/foil etc, but the former seems more common).

The MIDdleman.'s picture
The MIDdleman.'s picture
The MIDdleman. commented Monday, 23 Nov 2020 at 11:32am

Riding the wind is different to riding waves....sometimes you can do both.

The attract the same types of dudes and dudeettes but much like motorcyclists and race car drivers they achieve their kicks differently.

Signature.

Mishad's picture
Mishad's picture
Mishad commented Monday, 23 Nov 2020 at 4:05pm

I agree, there aren't many surfer kiters that I know except me and a mate here where I live, and we only use surfboards, or strapless as they call it. I'm a surfer first and foremost. I only got into kiting cos I was sitting at my local beachy back in perth howling south wind getting the old head dip when this guy on a kite was pulling himself into all these different wedges, hacking lips left right and centre. I was soooo jealous he was having so much fun while I was bobbing around like shark bait i went, nup, gotta be done, and got some lessons. Best decision I ever made. I moved to south africa 9 years to a small surfing village where if the waves are on I'm surfing, but if the wave are crap and winds up then I'm in the water having a blast while my mates are working on their bellies or doing [boring as fuck] gym or pool workouts. Just yesterday waves were 2 ft, weak and 5 mins walk away theres a right bank that was crosshore, so I was towing myself into these little runners smacking lips with no one in sight. This happens often. There was a 5ft shark also sharing the rights with me but he seemed content to let me buzz over him a few times before he got the idea and didnt see him again after that.

greebs's picture
greebs's picture
greebs commented Monday, 23 Nov 2020 at 4:33pm

Hi Stok not sure about that! All of the blokes in that clip sail/kite/sup but can surf.. I think Gerry has done a bit of that surfing thing for example. It used to be more of a decadal situation in terms of when new sports came into being. Back in the day it was mostly surfers mulling around looking for extra water time when the wind was up, then sailboarding came along, problem solved! Plus a percentage from yachts that couldn't be arsed with towing boats. Same thing when kites came along, even more water time coz you didn't need as much wind. Around my way many wind crew still kept on with surfing or tried to depending on the bones, but they'd be mulling around wondering what to do when the wind wasn't on (full circle!) and surf not exactly pumping then along comes SUPs! Hence huge percentage of wind crew SUP. Now foils open up other options. SUPs of course have also saved more than a few of us older crew as the surfing abilities start to wane (the goddam pop-up!) as I'm sure you've noticed! But yeah there are plenty that jump straight from landlubber to wind or SUP, maybe even more so these days as the gear has gotten so much lighter and easier for non-surf crew to handle.

Greebs

don1's picture
don1's picture
don1 commented Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020 at 7:57am

Good summary Greebs

don1

Joff's picture
Joff's picture
Joff commented Monday, 23 Nov 2020 at 5:06pm

Windsurfing/Kite/SUP can all be done standing up. Due to a long standing neck injury (partial stenosis C3/C4) I'm unable to surf (laying down whilst looking up is the issue). I ride SUPs as it's the only way I can stay out and enjoy the ocean. Plenty of others in the same position so injury might be a reason for it. Also many SUPs have a mast insert so they can be windsurfed too.
Wouldn't let the "paddle surfing/prone surfing" reference get to you too much as there are many different craft capable of surfing, some people just like to be specific, especially if they partake in a few of those alternates. I know others may have a different view on this eg. if you're not riding a 5ft tooth pick it's not surfing, but whatever gets you out there I reckon (especially in these times).
Cheers :)

gasman's picture
gasman's picture
gasman commented Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020 at 9:25am

Great comment mate. I'm in the same boat as you. Surfed for 20+ years but just can't do it often now due to my shoulders. I can still sup though and as painful as it may be for some 'real surfers' to accept I am still able to get a surfing kick out of doing that. I try and surf 'prone' when I can but shoulders just won't allow that too often these days.

The MIDdleman.'s picture
The MIDdleman.'s picture
The MIDdleman. commented Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020 at 12:08pm

My shoulders are both screwed.
It's now a volume game for me also.

I Windsurf when it's side shore.
I Surf when it's off.
I Fly when it's on.

The wind is always on my side,)

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tsunalu's picture
tsunalu's picture
tsunalu commented Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020 at 6:50pm

Robby absolutely rips on a short board from tinny to massive. Kai has been mentored by Robby until he ventured out on his own.
I can remember the 70's when my bothers and cousins were bragging about who caught the biggest wave, my uncle topped us all... He caught a 60' wave on his 30' yacht. The ride is the important thing.

brinymorning's picture
brinymorning's picture
brinymorning commented Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020 at 6:30am

Hey Stok,
I have always found this interesting as well. I was introduced to windsurfing and surfing at the same time back in 1979 via my father. The two have always been linked in my journey of surfing, I have spent a lot more time surfing than windsurfing during this time. Saying this though I am probably an outlier in my perspective of surfing, because I have always believed surfing was catching and riding a wave no matter what the craft or lack of, ie. Bodysurfing, prone, standing or propelled by the wind. many of those I have looked to for inspiration in my life have flirted with riding all sorts of craft, from George greenough, Bob Mctavish, Jason Polakow, Dave Byrne to give a few examples. Peace.

chook's picture
chook's picture
chook commented Monday, 23 Nov 2020 at 11:16am

they seem to be in nsw...there was a surf film playing at the randwich ritz the other week.

lost's picture
lost's picture
lost commented Monday, 23 Nov 2020 at 5:58pm

Michael Peterson was actually a really good windsurfer - really got into it for a while. Not sure a heap of people know that.

knB

hahnsolo's picture
hahnsolo's picture
hahnsolo commented Monday, 23 Nov 2020 at 6:41pm

Yeah Stok, generally the comments from a short boarder. I mostly surf long boards and SUPs these days due to my age. 60 years young... I don’t regard foiling as surfing as there is no board in the water. My day at the points where I live is to paddle out on a prone board and surf til I’m tired then take my SUP out for another hour and a half! I’ve been doing it for over a decade so I’m competent enough not to be a dander to others. The major misconception is that SUPn is easy. Could not be further from the truth. There is almost as much skill paddling them in the surf as there is to riding waves. The problem is that most people can jump on a 12 footer and paddle out on easy days with no surf experience and make c?!nts of themselves and give the sport a bad name. Wind surfing and board riding generally don’t clash in the water so not seen as a problem for short boarders. Your problem in the future is foils.....

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020 at 8:47am

"..I think Gerry has done a bit of that surfing thing."

Very droll, Greebs.

Phil Jarratt's picture
Phil Jarratt's picture
Phil Jarratt commented Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020 at 10:25am

Robbie Naish tried to reach me the basics of kite-surfing once. Hopeless. We gave up and went out and surfed Namotu Lefts on longboards, and he ripped, of course. He also has perhaps the most wicked sense of humour I've encountered, and there have been a few. Hope the film brings that out, look forward to seeing it.

Phil Jarratt

brutus's picture
brutus's picture
brutus commented Tuesday, 24 Nov 2020 at 1:20pm

When I went to Europe in the early 80's , and started windsurfing in the waves of France and Portugal.....had to do the trade shows in Germany/Munich/Dusseldorf...Paris, Robby was already a legend as all the sailors I met talked about his first World title....this 13 year old blond /scrawny kid turns up , the first few days he smokes the field in really light winds , then the last day was really windy so all Robby's competitors/detractors claim the kid will never handle strong winds....he blew them all out of the water and finished even further ahead than the light wind days....he is a freak of nature....one of the best blokes you'll ever meet....and one of the first guys to sail Jaws with Pete Carbrina!

brinymorning's picture
brinymorning's picture
brinymorning commented Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020 at 6:43am

There is such a long list of Surfers that have flirted with or are windsurfers and vice versa, George Greenough, Bob Mctavish, Dave Byrne, and an endless list of Hawaiians, Dave Kalama, Laird hamilton and the list goes on and on. These are just some examples from our history. The Polynesians have been doing both for a millennia. Peace.

Kered Ausden's picture
Kered Ausden's picture
Kered Ausden commented Wednesday, 25 Nov 2020 at 12:43pm

Don't forget Midget in that group.