The Alternative Sport Show: Robby Naish

Over the course of 40 years, professional waterman, Robby Naish, won over 150 tournament victories and became a 24-time world champion. His purpose in life every day was about competing and being an exceptional athlete. So now in his fifties, as he figures out what to accomplish next in his life The Longest Wave documentary sheds light on his career during transition from competing to life after professional sport, a perspective rarely documented.

From award-winning director Joe Berlinger (The Cecil Hotel, Paradise Lost, Brother’s Keeper, Metallica: Some Kind of Monster and Crude) the new windsurfing documentary film, The Longest Wave, debuts worldwide on Red Bull TV, a free, On Demand streaming service on 10th August.

Berlinger departs from the true crime drama to dive into a world totally unfamiliar to him. 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 Robby balancing the pursuit of excellence at sea with the demands of life’s challenges on land, including family, injuries, getting older and the risks of continuing to participate in considerably dangerous sports.

Robby Naish won his first windsurfing world title aged 13 and he has been at the forefront of windsurfing, kitesurfing, paddleboarding and more recently foil boarding. Berlinger exposes what happens when a 24-time world champion from Hawaii, who paved the way for new extreme sports, is told to stop. Does the clock stop ticking, and all you have worked for come to an abrupt end? Robby is far from ready for his life to lose the meaning and purpose he’s always leaned upon.

So, what does happen after?  The US Olympic Committee’s Athlete Career and Education Program* – which helps current and retired athletes access education, develop career readiness skills and jobs – has a programme to address just that.   Its research has identified numerous traits that make a competitive athlete a ‘strong employee’, identifying that professional sportsman share traits including being results orientated, able to execute strategy, conquer adversity, perform under pressure, are ambitious, team players, inspirational and culturally sensitive.

Given these findings, why is it that athletes often find it hard to adjust to conventional working life when the sporting one ends.  Whilst some forge new roles as Commentators, Coaches, Managers or Public Speakers – just see those on British TV currently covering the Euro’s – more end their career at the top of their field only to find themselves at the bottom again, in many cases because of the all-consuming nature of elite sport, and without other relevant experience or qualifications. Should what happens next have been addressed right from the offset of Naish’s career?

Robby talks about what is next for him following filming the Longest Wave and says “I’m just riding for fun at the moment and seeing what comes next, which also feels good, you know, not to have anything that I’m really focused on, but yeah, just see what comes.”

The Longest Wave is a film that looks at the man behind the sports he grew, and who has reached what he is told is his last goal, his final title. The film captures the story of the man continuing his quest for brilliance by challenging himself to ride the world’s longest wave, yet unexpectedly reveals his vulnerabilities as a businessman, an innovator who is constantly crafting and developing, as a mentor for upcoming talent, and as a father who’s been on the road many days of his daughters’ lives.

The film premieres August 10 only on Red Bull TV, a free, on demand streaming service available on the web and as an app across devices big and small. Watch the premiere here –


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