Cool Sailing Quotes – Nautical Quotes For Sailors

Last Updated on March 7, 2023 by Brendan

cool laser sailing quotes

Just thought I’d share with you my picks of some of the best sailing quotes that I have seen going around.

There are some pretty cool quotes from a mix of some world-class sailors right through to those with just a more basic love for the water.

If you have a favorite sailing quote, whether it be a famous one, something you made up, or one you heard down at the club, make sure that you share it in the comments section at the bottom of the page.


Our Picks Of The Best Sailing Quotes…

“I’m not sure why I am so competitive, but I always have been. Whether it’s playing table tennis, cards or Olympic sailing I just have to win.”

Tom Slingsby – Laser World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist

“I’ve been sailing from the age of 2, and apparently, when I was 4, I told my dad, ‘I know how to do this; you don’t have to come with me anymore.”

Nathan Outteridge – 420, 49er and Moth World Champion, and Olympic Gold Medalist

 “There is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”

Kenneth Grahame – The Wind in the Willows

“You haven’t won the race, if in winning the race you have lost the respect of your competitors.”

Paul Elvstrøm – Winner of 4 Olympic Gold medals

“You can no longer just be a good sailor. You have to be an incredible athlete as well. Having said that, you can be a great athlete, the strongest guy in the world, but if you can’t anticipate and make decisions under stress and exhaustion and think ahead, then you won’t be able to cut it, either.”

Jimmy Spithill – youngest ever winner of the America’s Cup

“The sea will grant each man new hope. The sleep brings dreams of home.”

Christopher Columbus

“The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.”

William Arthur Ward – Author, educator, and motivational speaker

“A bad day sailing is better than a good day at work.”

— unknown

“Start first and increase your lead.”

Buddy Melges – Olympic Gold & Bronze Medalist

“Big boats get the glory, but the dingy makes the sailor.”

— From the movie “Wind

“Life’s a reach until you gibe.”

— Book by Sean Downey

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.”

Bertha Calloway – Activist and historian

“It’s the next step for someone like me who has come from small boats to try to make it into the America’s Cup. It’s the pinnacle of big boat sailing really.”

— Sir Ben Ainslie – Laser and Finn World Champion

“Sailing – The fine art of slowly going nowhere at great expense while being cold, wet and miserable.”

— Irv Heller

“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

— John A. Shedd – Salt from My Attic, 1928

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”

Marcel Proust – French novelist

“I am really fighting for every spot, even if I am back in the pack tomorrow I’ll be fighting for every point come the end of the regatta.”

Tom Slingsby – Laser World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist

“I come from the 49er, where there is a high error rate in the sailing but the best sailor still wins, and that’s why I’m attracted to these kind of boats.”

Nathan Outteridge – 420, 49er and Moth World Champion, and Olympic Gold Medalist

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”

Lucius Annaeus Seneca – Roman philosopher

“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.”

George William Curtis – American writer and public speaker

“Sailed this day nineteen leagues, and determined to count less than the true number, that the crew might not be dismayed if the voyage should prove long.”

Christopher Columbus

“In typical sailing races a long time ago, you’d come in and go out, and the first thing you’d do is probably have a cold beer. The first thing we do now is have a protein shake and our recovery drink.”

Jimmy Spithill – youngest ever winner of the America’s Cup

 “I’d love to have a proper sailing boat and go around the world.”

— Jonathan Powell

“The effect of sailing is produced by a judicious arrangement of the sails to the direction of the wind.”

William Falconer – Scottish poet

“The sooner we learn to be jointly responsible, the easier the sailing will be.”

Ella Maillart – Swiss adventurer and sportswoman

“Sailing a boat calls for quick action, a blending of feeling with the wind and water as well as with the very heart and soul of the boat itself. Sailing teaches alertness and courage, and gives in return a joyousness and peace that but few sports afford.”

George Matthew Adams – American newspaper columnist

“Sailing is such a variable sport. There could be no wind, or there could be 25 knots. You never know what you’re going to get.”

Hannah Mills – 420 and 470 World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist

“Sailing is the closest I can get to nature – it’s adrenaline, fear, a constant challenge and learning experience, an adventure into the unknown. And of course there is nothing better than wearing the same T-shirt for days and not brushing my hair for weeks.”

Daria Werbowy – Ukrainian-Canadian model

“Capsizes kind of go hand in hand with 49er racing. I’ve had four to five capsizes in races and still won the event. It’s just the nature of this type of sailing.”

Nathan Outteridge – 420, 49er and Moth World Champion, and Olympic Gold Medalist

“There is no trophy for the team that sails the most.”

Jimmy Spithill – youngest ever winner of the America’s Cup

 “Sailing became one of the mainstreams of my life. I suppose my father was an influence. I remember seeing a photo of him at home sailing a big boat to Bermuda in his 20s. I still have it.”

David Crosby – American singer

“It is always hard when people say you are a dead cert to win; you try to tell them that is not the case, but they don’t listen. I started sailing in Cornwall as an 8-year-old in a duffle coat and wellies (British Wellington boots) and now I’m standing here. You never know what can happen.”

— Sir Ben Ainslie – Laser and Finn World Champion

 “You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Christopher Columbus

 “When I’m not surfing or sailing, I am to be found at the harbour working on my boat.”

Laura Dekker – Dutch sailor, completed World solo circumnavigation at age 16

“Sailing unties the knots in my mind.”

— Al Noble

“Sailing is just the bottom line, like adding up the score in bridge. My real interest is in the tremendous game of life.”

Dennis Conner – 4 times America’s Cup winner

“To win a medal here you have to be a complete sailor, you have to be able to sail in a wide range of conditions.”

Robert Scheidt – Laser World Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist

Have you got any better sailing quotes? What’s your favorite? Please share in the comments section below…

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About Brendan

Brendan has over 30 years experience sailing dinghies, yachts, and windsurfers, but has recently started Laser sailing. "I found it difficult to find all the information that I needed when I started sailing my Laser, and I am sure that others have had the same problem. So I combined all the information I could into this website to help other Laser sailors get the most out of this sport. If you have any questions or comments, let me know... I will get back to you as soon as I can."

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