Sailing Movies – The Good, the Bad and the Worse

Face it, despite their being an abundance of movies set on the water, good sailing movies are few and far between. This may change now that the Volvo Ocean Race includes live streams, showing the world the drama and excitement of yacht racing. However, until a movie comes out based on the Volvo Ocean Race, we’re going to make a few recommendations for sailing movies to watch when you’re back on dry land.

Wind (1992) – Now, this movie has some great shots of 12 meters sailing. Inspired by the 1983 and 1987 American Cup races, it does a good job of portraying the exhilaration of Cup racing. While they take a few liberties during the last few races, Wind is a good all-rounder that can entertain yachters and non-yachters alike.

All is Lost (2013) – Yes, we might get some flack for this one, but we said sailing movies, not necessarily accurate sailing movies. Whether or not you enjoy Robert Redford’s one man yacht sailing disaster movie seems to come down to whether you can overlook all of the technical issues with the film and just enjoy the drama as it unfolds. But for many of us, the bumbling Redford going from ridiculous mistake to ridiculous mistake is just too much to take. I mean, how did he manage to set a life raft on fire again? Nevertheless, this movie raked in the awards.

Dead Calm (1989) – Not much actual sailing goes on in this movie, the yacht being used more as a plot device than anything else, but it still gets a thumbs up due to its tight, thrilling plot and solid performance from a young Nicole Kidman.

Captain Ron (1992) – If we’re going to lambast All is Lost for being technically incorrect, then we have to do the same for Kurt Russell and Martin Short’s 1992 comedy Captain Ron. Short, finding out he’s inherited a vintage yacht, winds up hiring the roguish Captain Ron (Russell) to sail it back to Miami for him, and comedy ensues. Perhaps one of those movies that you love or you hate, Captain Ron still has its fans in the yachting community for its goofy humor.

Captains Courageous (1937) – Finally, for authenticity, Spencer Tracy’s 1937 Captains Courageous contains lots of footage of actual sail fishing boats in the Atlantic, and an Oscar-winning performance from Spencer Tracy to boot.

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