PRE-LOVED 426 - Rybovich 65 Sport Fisher

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The Rybovich 65 Sport Fisher <I>El Queso Grande</I> is a one of a kind… well, in Australia anyway, because she is the only one said to be in country

PRE-LOVED 426 - Rybovich 65 Sport Fisher
PRE-LOVED 426 — Rybovich 65 Sport Fisher

El Queso Grande translates as The Great Cheese, but there is nothing cheesy about the boat that bears this name on her varnished timber transom. In fact, she is the very antithesis of cheap and inferior, her name an obvious inference to someone of influence or great wealth, who would or could afford to own such a rare gem. The boat in question is a 65 Sport Fisher from the world-famous Rybovich yard in Palm Beach, Florida. She’s lying in Sydney at Geoff Lovett International brokerage and is believed to be the only one of the marque in Australia.

The sleek El Queso Grande is typical of the modern tournament fishing boat design, known as convertibles, that were developed by the Rybovich brothers
— Tommy, John Jnr and Emil — after WWII. The story goes that upon their return from war service to their father John Snr’s boat maintenance business, the trio began building charter fishing boats, but exclusively for America’s rich and famous with custom everything.

Names like Ernest Hemingway, Tony Accarro (Al Capone’s hitman) and history’s greatest Ponzi scammer Bernie Madoff were Rybovich owners, even Fidel Castro took a liking to the boats. He apparently seized hull no.8 Miss Chevy IV in Cuba. That boat was the first to feature the "broken sheer", apparently borrowed from Chris-Craft, that stamped subsequent Rybovichs and convertible gameboat design from then on.

Tommy was hull designer, creating fishing boats that were tough and fast. Brother John is credited with inventing the modern gamefishing chair, the tuna tower, transom door and aluminium outriggers, while Emil was the engine expert. Michael Rybovich, son of Emil, is the last of the family still boatbuilding and has an excellent website at documenting the history of the yard, plus a registry of the boats built.

According to the list, only 126 boats have slid down the Rybovich slipway between 1947 and 2010, so El Queso Grande, hull no.80 is indeed a rare gem. And according to her current owner, she is steeped in history too. By the way, the registry records the 65 Sport Fisher as a 63… could it be boat owners have tape measures as stretchy as fishermen’s?

"My boat was originally named Flying Fisher after its owner Bob Fisher," owner Ched told Trade-a-Boat. "He invented the car seat belt and owned a car company that did all the Cadillac Coupes in the ’50s — they were all branded Body by Fisher.

"He bought the yard after Tommy Rybovich's death (in 1972) and built himself the biggest best boat to date, which is my boat.

"Fisher then sold her about 10 years later to Jack F. Kennedy the III (you can imagine how excited I was to read this, only then to find out it wasn't that JFK). Anyhow, Jack was a great guy who kept her in beautiful condition cruising the Bahamas and Florida for 20 years, before finally retiring to the most amazing waterfront home in Orange Beach, Alabama, on the Gulf Coast, where the boat sat outside his house in its own covered dock.

"Jack gave the boat to his son about six years ago and his son didn't have much time or interest in the boat, so it sat for many years. I flew to Alabama and basically bought it on the spot (after looking at lots of boats over the years) — it was just beautiful but needed a lot of work.

"So I serviced the engines and she made the 1500-mile trip to Ft Lauderdale without incident. Once there, the refit began and took over a year. Without going into details, it was extensive and ranged from rebuilds of the major machinery to repairing and replacing absolutely anything on the boat that was worn, rotten or old," Ched said.

The owner shipped El Queso Grande to Sydney about 12 months, ago and removed the tuna tower (the base remains on the boat) to negotiate Sydney Harbour bridges.

"I had been looking for a boat for some time and I always searched Rybovich hoping a good big one would come-up one day, eventually one did," said Ched.

"I understood how special the brand is in America. They say on the East Coast if you don't care what something costs you buy a Rybovich.

"To give you an example, back in the 1980s a new custom 52-foot Rybovich was $1.9 million dollars when a new 52 foot Bertram was $390,000. They really are a status symbol in Palm Beach, Florida, where you can feel very proud at the local club when people are talking about their boats and you say ‘I own a Rybovich’," Ched said.

The Rybovich Sport Fisher looks as good as she sounds, dressed in a newly painted white-fibreglass sheathed hull and superstructure, superbly offset by a varnished timber transom, rail cappings, cockpit cabinetry and saloon bulkhead. The cockpit sole is teak-laid, a polished timber table taking pride-of-place and interchangeable with a gamechair. Also for fishing are three sets of rocket launchers on the bimini-covered tuna tower base frame, six rodholders across the back of flybridge, and three each on the rear struts. The helm is in the flybridge and has an electric pop-up control panel with radar, VHF and Furuno plotter.

The interior is fully air-conditioned and new additions to saloon include carpet, LG LCD TV, and Fusion stereo (with speakers also to cockpit and flybridge). The saloon’s for’ard galley is large, with storage cupboards, plenty of bench space, two-door stainless steel fridge and electric stove. Accommodation comprises a master cabin with double bed, en suite and vanity, a guest cabin with two single berths and en suite, and a vee-berth crew cabin for two plus head.

Broker Peter Lovett says the asking price for El Queso Grande is $899,000, less than the refit cost, and considerably less than replacement cost of $US4.5 million.
For further information, phone Peter Lovett on 0407 072 244.

Classic boats, particularly the sportsfishing kind, don’t come much grander than a Rybovich. The fully customised gameboats have been highly sort by American high-society since the first boat appeared from the yard in 1947. And El Queso Grande is certainly unique being the only Rybovich known to be in Australia.


FOR SALE: $899,000
MATERIAL: Fibreglass sheathed timber hull
TYPE: Semi-displacement monohull
BEAM: 5.54m
DRAFT: 1.25m
FUEL: 6000lt
WATER: 1500lt
ENGINE: 2 x 871hp Detroit diesel
SPEED: 16kts (cruise); 21kts (sprint)

From Trade-a-Boat Issue 426, Apr-May, 2012. Story by John Panozzo. Photos from Geoff Lovett International.


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