History of Sportfishing Boats

The origins of the offshore tournament boat feature early designs crafted by Rybovich, Whiticar and Merritt. Read more here.

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Rybovich's 34-foot Miss Chevy II was designed to fish the Cat Cay Tuna Tournament — she would be a teak and mahogany jewel box.
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Rybovich hull no. 27, Frances II, at the Rybovich & Sons boatyard.
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Tommy Rybovich, bottom left, with Charley Johnson (who commissioned Rybovich hull No. 1). Behind Mr. Johnson, standing, is John Rybovich. To the right, Emil Rybovich stands behind Pops Rybovich. (Ca. 1956.)
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Flipping Rybovich hull no. 36, Cosa. (Ca. July 15, 1964.)
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Rybovich family on hull no. 53, Tralee Kate.
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Rybovich family.
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Hull no. 13, Bimini Babe, featured on the cover of Sports Afield (February, 1960).
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A fleet of Rybovich boats at Cat Cay. (Ca. 1964.)
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A fleet of Rybovich boats heads out looking for the fish during a 1965 tournament in Bimini, Bahamas.
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Three Rybovich boats docked. (Ca. 1966.)
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Curt Whiticar designed and built around 60 boats, but his favorite is the 33-foot Shearwater he built for himself in 1937. "We commercial-fished her with short riggers and used kites and longer bamboo riggers for sailfish. It wasn't so complicated. … The fish were everywhere!"
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Shearwater, built in 1937, was Whiticar’s seventh hull.
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Shearwater under construction. (Ca. 1937.)
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Shearwater running
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A fleet of Whiticar yachts head out to the fishing grounds.
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Whiticar's Gannet II running.
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Cockpit of Whiticar's Gannet II.
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Whiticar’s most recent builds are state-of-the-art tournament designs with cold-molded hulls and cored fiberglass superstructures.
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Brothers Allen and Buddy Merritt began building boats in 1955 at their family’s service yard 20 miles south of Rybovich’s in Pompano Beach.
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Buddy Merritt
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Allen Merritt
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Allen and Buddy Merritt at the Atlantic Marine Basin, N.J.
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The Merritt 42 Caliban is still one good-looking gal.
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Caliban running
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Tuna Teaser, a 37' Merritt.
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72' Merritt running
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Merritt enclosed bridge
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Merritt's boatyard. (Ca. 2000.)