The last sailing movie I watched was with my college sailing teammates, crowded around a thousand pound TV showing Wind on VHS. Although I was only three went it premiered, watching the opening credits inspired a wave of nostalgia. Packed full of cheesy moments it reminded us of a not so far gone sailing era, and Jennifer Grey’s once notable nose. For weeks after, we quacked when ducking boats at practice and paraded about in 90’s sailing gear from the lost and found.
I love movies and I love sailing. In the winter, I think I love movies a bit more than sailing. To make up for some time off the water, I have been exploring what the world of sailing movies has to offer.
Sailing movies have a special place in the heart of boaters. They inspire nostalgia, wanderlust, and critique. During the dark, stormy days of winter they allow viewers to set sail from the cozy comfort of home. What constitutes a sailing movie? Technically, Wedding Crashershas a sailing scene, and although beautiful and humorous, it isn’t quite enough to catapult it into sailing lore.
Sailing movies include stories of romance, distress, or drama, delivered to audiences in a boat-shaped package. My Top 10 not only depict sailing, they explore it – the good and bad. Above all, they have engaged the sailing community in some way. Some are praised, others rebuked, and some of the best enter kitschy sailing lore.
So, if you are a daring year ’round sailor here in the Pacific Northwest, we commend you! But if you do choose to stay on shore, get your sailing fix with one of these sailing movies.
“A 2500 mile journey that will change the course of their lives forever”
The Big Names: Roy Edward Disney, Jeremy Wilmot, Charlie Enright, Mark Towill, Genny Tulloch
Following a nationwide search that excited young sailors everywhere, Morning Light straddles the line between documentary and reality show as it follows fifteen youth sailors training and competing in the demanding TRANSPAC.
“Never Give Up”
The Big Names: Robert Redford, J.C. Candor (Writer and Director)
This film’s hopeful title, Nike-esque tagline, and alternative plot has both thrilled and terrified boaters. Robert Redford’s singlehanding character faces challenges and uncertainty after his vessel collides with a shipping container offshore. For most sailors, it’s a love/hate thing. But, it’s definitely worth a watch, even if it partly to point out this sailor’s errors.
“Winning is everything”
The Big Names: Matthew Modine, Jennifer Grey, Francis Ford Coppola (Executive Producter), Carroll Ballard (Director- also directed Fly Away Home and The Black Stallion)
Back when the America’s Cup was a tango of two monohulls, Wind is loosely based on Dennis Connor’s pivotal loss to the Australians in the 1983 America’s Cup.
“ Martin just wanted a nice, quiet family vacation. Instead, he got…”
The Big Names: Kurt Russell and Martin Short
A lighter look at sailing disasters with of one of sailing’s most beloved and dubious skippers, Captain Ron pairs a landlubber family with the salty Captain Ron on a newly inherited yacht. Questionable decision making and loose ethics ensue as the one-eyed captain helps the family sail to Miami.
The Big Names: Tilda Swinton (narrator), Robin Knox-Johnson, Bernard Moitessier and Donald Crowhurst
In 1968 nine men took on the challenge of the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race seeking fame for completing a non-stop singlehanded circumnavigation of the globe. The stories, and original footage, of the entrants will fascinate sailors and non-sailors in this historical documentary.