Top 10 Sailing Movies To Watch in 2019

Best sailing movies

For every real sailor passionate about sailing and all things connected with the ocean or sea,  having a list of best sailing movies is definitely on „to do“ list. Tragic and inconceivable stories of survival, unbelievable adventure and wild journeys or just real every day documentary stories make nautical movies not only interesting to watch, but very educational for every person in love with the sea. That is a main reason why we decided to make our list of top ten sailing movies. If you have missed any of those films, 2019 will be defnitely a perfect year for watching every one of them.

10. Maidentrip (2013)

Maidentrip is a beautiful documentary about Laura Dekker‘s year and a half voyage to be the youngest person ever to sail around the world. Dekker, born in Holland, set sail from Gibraltar in 2010 and made the journey in a year and half, finishing a few months after her 16th birthday. Her route took her to St. Martins, Panama, the Galapagos Islands, Austrailia, the Cape of Good Hope, and back to St. Martins. This inspiring documentary will leave you amazed first because of the premise – that a girl, 14, would even try such an amazing task. In 2009, only 13 years old, she sailed across the English Channel from Holland and back by herself. When it became known that she intended to sail around the world, Dutch authorities attempted to remove her from her father’s custody to keep her from making the trip. After a court victory, the way was cleared for her.

Cast & Crew

Laura Dekker


Jillian Schlesinger

9. Kon-tiki (1950)

“Kon-Tiki” was the name of a wooden raft used by six Scandinavian scientists, led by Thor Heyerdahl, to make a 101-day journey from South America to the Polynesian Islands. The purpose of the expedition was to prove Heyerdal’s theory that the Polynesian Islands were populated from the east rather than from the west as had been the theory for hundreds of years. Heyerdahl made a study of the winds and tides in the Pacific, and by simulating conditions as closely as possible to those he theorized the Peruvians encountered, set out on the voyage.

Cast & Crew

Thor Heyerdahl, Herman Watzinger, Erik Hesselberg, Knut Haugland, Torstein Raaby, Bengt Danielsson


Thor Heyerdahl

8. Knife in the Water (1962)

The first Polish film to be nominated for a Foreign Language Oscar, Roman Polanski’s “Knife in the Water” is considered one of the most impressive director’s debuts. The story is simple. A wealthy couple on its way to spend a weekend on their yacht picks up a young and attractive hitchhiker. The middle-aged husband, a successful and cynical sportswriter invites the young man on board, perhaps to show off his nice yacht, his seamanship, and eventually, his superiority. His young and sexy wife does not say much but as the yacht moves along and tension between two men rises, she seems to enjoy the presence of a passenger and the obvious competition between them for her attention.

Cast & Crew

Leon Niemczky, Jolanta Umecka, Zygmunt Malanowicz


Roman Polanski

7. The Riddle of the Sands (1979)

In the early years of the 20th Century, two British yachtsmen (Michael York and Simon MacCorkindale) stumble upon a German plot to invade the east coast of England in a flotilla of specially designed barges. They set out to thwart this terrible scheme, but must outwit not only the cream of the German Navy, but the feared Kaiser Wilhelm himself.

Michael York, Jenny Agutter, Alan Badel, Simon MacCorkindale

Cast & Crew


Tony Maylam

Wind (1992)

Will Parker, played by Matthew Modine, loses the Americas Cup, the worlds biggest sailing prize, to the Australians and decides to form his own syndicate to win it back. The loss of the America’s Cup by the USA to Australia in 1983 broke the longest ever running winning streak in world sports history. Everyone who is in love with the sea and sailing will surely will hold this movie as a classic.

Cast & Crew

Matthew Modine, Jennifer Grey, Cliff Robertson, Jack Thompson, Rebecca Miller


Carroll Ballard

5. Dead Calm (1989)

Dead Calm, directed by Phillip Noyce, is one of those thriller movies you just can’t stop watching. It follows story of John and Rae Ingram, a married Australian couple whose sailing adventure was interrupted by a stranger who has abandoned a sinking ship. It turns out that this seemingly harmless survivor is actually a psychopath and they are stuck with him on open sea. This movie has a lot of sailing scenes in difficult and dangerous conditions, but it also offers thrill and excitement.

Cast & Crew

Nicole Kidman, Sam Neil, Billy Zane, Rod Mullinar, Joshua Tilden


Phillio Noyce

4. White Squall (1996)

White Squall is a true story about the sailing voyage of the small group of American teenagers whose sailboat Albatross sank 1960. This touching film about sailing and boys teamwork, discipline and courage  was directed by Ridley Scott, famous British director nominated fo 4 Academy Awards. This 8 months long sailing voyage definitely deserves to be on our list of best sailing movies.

Cast & Crew

Jeff Bridges, Caroline Goodall, John Savage, Scott Wolf, Jeremy Sisto


Ridley Scott

3. All is lost (2013)

Our list of ten sailing movies can’t be completed without this outstanding film starring just Robert Redford, a man lost at the sea. It is very interesting to note that Redford is the only cast member and the film has just a few spoken words. For this role, he was nominated for Golden Globe and won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor.

Cast & Crew

Robert Redford


J. C. Chandor

2. Deep Water (2006)

This interesting British documentary tells a story of the first round the world yacht race focusing on particulary one competitor – Donald Crowhurst. Deep Water is not just about solo non stop sailing, it shows how this hard challenge can affect life of any person. This film presents how nine months of solitude definitely alters mind state, so this movie is must see for anyone interested in sailing. Deep Water had to be on our list of top ten sailing movies.

Cast & Crew

Tilda Swinton, Donald Crowhurst, Jean Badin, Simon Russell Beale, Ted Hynds


Louise Osmond, Jerry Rothwell

1. Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003)

On the top of our list of best sailing movies is Master and Commander, beautiful film that tells a story of British captain who is in pursuit of a French Warship around South America. Whole plot is set during the Napoleonic wars. This beautiful action film won two Oscars. Movie critics agree that this role of Captain Jack Aubrey was one of the best performances  every played by Russell Crowe.

Cast & Crew

Russell Crowe, Paul Bettany, Billy Boyd, Chris Larkin, Max Pirkis


Peter Weir

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Tin Đudajek

About the Author: Tin Đudajek

1 Comment

  1. a fascinating documentary on the first nonstop singlehanded sailing race around the world, the sunday times golden globe race held in 1968-69, before gps and most satellite communications. the race was open to all comers regardless of experience. what started as a grand adventure ended tragically for most of the 9 contestants. if u don’t know this heartbreaking story already i don’t want to spoil it so enough said.

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