Rhonda Smith Sanchez, multi-time US National and World Champion, moved to Clearwater, Florida, at a young age, where she met the Florida crew that would change her life. Though she had never surfed, sailed, or done any water sports, she quickly caught on under the tutelage of windsurfing greats Mark Robinson, Cort Larned, the Aguera brothers. She warmed up by placing second in her first Nationals, then turned the Florida girl heat on, scorching the competition with wind in racing, slalom, and freestyle on the world stage. Whether it was multiple wins at the premier event of the day, the Pan Am Cup, at the Hang Ten World Championships, or as a member of the US powerhouse team competing internationally, Rhonda always seemed to come out on top. Her dazzling smile and personality became the face of windsurfing, appearing in LIFE magazine, Mademoiselle, and countless TV shows such as PM Magazine and Solid Gold. At the time of writing, Rhonda is still going strong in the sport of wingfoiling, enjoying a successful career in business, where everything she touches once again turns to solid gold.
Your first windsurfing experience?"Clearwater Beach Florida, Mark Robinson, and Cort Larned always pushed me to windsurf and race better."
Favorite minute of windsurfing? "Winning the 1986 Gorge Pro Am. After losing year before."
What would you like to be remembered for in this sport? "Being a world champion, paving a way for other women to achieve their passions."
Rhonda... Gorge. Photo Eric Sanford
Young and eager Rhonda Smith. Photo Pietro Porcello.
Life Magazine, Photos Co Rentmeester.
Rhonda in pink, traveling the world.
Rhonda, 2021, her doggie enjoying five seconds of fame.