Newman Darby

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Newman Darby is an American inventor best known as the inventor of the sailboard.


He grew up in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and began building boats when he was 12. His first boat sank, but he fished it out of the Susquehanna River, near his home, and made it into a home for snakes.

Today, Darby and his wife make their home in Saint Johns, Florida.


Darby first conceived of a hand-operated square sail attached to a catamaran in 1948, when he was 20. In the mid-1960s, Darby conceived the Darby Sailboard": a hand-held square rigged "kite" sail on a floating platform for recreational use.

Darby had taught himself to sail a 10-foot model on lakes in high wind between 1964 and 1965. He published his design in August 1965 Popular Science magazine, and although it did not show any connection between the rig and the board (i.e., a universal joint; the mast simply rested in a depression on the board) it did refer to a "more complex swivel step for advanced riders not shown."

Darby and his wife, Naomi, organized Darby Industries, Inc. in 1964, with his brother, Kenneth, was also active in the company. However, the sailboard design never gained popularity, and Darby's...
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