Top 10 Sailing Films and Best Documentaries Of All Time

As a massive fan of the water, if I’m not on a boat, I’m often reading of sailing adventures, planning a trip, or losing myself in a sailing related movie. In no particular order, here’s my run down of some of the best sailing related films and documentaries out there.

The Top 10 Sailing Films and Documentaries…


Adrift – Based on a true story after facing a Category 4 hurricane on a sailing trip, Tami Oldham and Richard Sharp face the unimaginable in the Pacific Ocean. A harrowing tale, with a MASSIVE plot twist, this is a must see sailing film.


Abandoned – Another one of the best sailing films of all time, based on a true story, this movie tells the story of the trimaran , Rose Noelle. Setting sail from New Zealand the yacht capsizes and the crew drift in the upturned boat for 119 days. The film follows the onboard dramas, and survival tactics and is a gripping watch and most definitely one of the best sailing films out there.


The Mercy – An absolute must-watch, this top sailing film is based on the well-known true story of the disastrous attempt by amateur sailor, Donald Crowhurst to compete in the 1968 Golden Globe Race. Following his story in the build up to the race and his accounts from the race, this sad tale brings to life the immense pressure and strain that Crowhurst was under to complete the race.


The Perfect Storm – I didn’t watch this film until after I’d raced across the North Atlantic (and through this stretch of Ocean) on the Clipper Race. Based (very loosely) on a true story this film dramatises the story of the Andrea Gale, a fishing vessel that faced a confluence of storms in the North Atlantic which tragically led to the loss of the vessel and all crew. It is a must watch sailing related film, but be you’ll need to keep a broad mind as there’s a lot of over-dramatisation and inconsistencies!


Captain Phillips – An absolute must-watch starring Tom Hanks, this film brings to life the true story of the ‘Maersk Alabama’ hijacking. A cargo ship attempting to make passage along the coast of Somalia, she is boarded by pirates and ultimately Captain Phillips is taken hostage. With many dramatic twists and turns this sea-faring nightmare led to many lessons being learned about modern day piracy in the late 2000’s.


Maiden – One of the best sailing films to watch, this film will be relatable to any female sailor in some way, Maiden tells the story of Tracy Edwards, who in 1989 led the first all-female crew in sailing 33,000 miles in the Whitbread Round the World Race. Dramatising her story and the gruelling challenge that the team faced, this story brings to life the many challenges that female sailors faced, and indeed sometimes still face today. An inspiring sailing film, definitely one not to be missed.


Relentless – An inspiring sailing documentary, whether you’re a racing sailor, or simply prefer cruising with your G&T, this film tells the story of Alex’s grit, determination and personal resilience as he pursues his dream of winning the Vendee Globe sailing race. You can find this top sailing documentary on youtube here.


Maidentrip – a documentary sailing film, Maidentrip tells the story of Laura Dekker, the youngest person to ever complete a solo circumnavigation. Setting off at the age of just 14 years old, this film (much of it filmed by Laura) follows her on her incredible journey onboard ‘Guppy’. Whether you think it was right that she undertook the voyage or not, it’s an inspiring watch, not to be missed.


Racing Around The World Alone – this documentary film, follows the incredible story of 30 skippers competing in the 2008/09 Vendee Globe sailing race. Facing many months at sea alone, these sailors face all extremes of weather and personal challenges, as they battle it out to complete this remarkable 27,00nm solo race. An inspiring sailing documentary, a must watch.


Sir Robin Knox-Johnson; Sailing Legend: a feature length documentary that you can watch on youtube, this hour long film talks about the incredible life of sailing legend, Sir Robin. Featuring Sir Ben Ainslie, Alex Thompson, Chris Bonnington and Dee Caffari, this film documents some of his remarkable achievements, including becoming the first person to sail solo around the world onboard his ketch, Suhali.

There are so many more I want to include here (Clipper Race: Race of Their Lives, The Guardian, Swallows and Amazons, All is Lost, Wind… to name a few more!) but this is my personal list of the top 10 sailing films of all time and my best sailing documentaries. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

I’m always looking for recommendations, so please let me know what sailing or general sea-based films you love. Please leave your movie and documentary recommendations in the comments below!

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