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  • Writer's pictureSteven Hopkinson

That Maverick sailing scene

We just went back to the movies, to see a film on the big screen, for the first time in a while, and we decided to see Maverick, since almost everyone we know has been raving about the Top Gun sequel since it was released way back on May 27th. And it was as good a cinematic experience as everyone has been saying, the type of big tent popcorn movie that needs to be seen on the largest screen, with the best possible sound, with the loudest audience to be fully appreciated. Maverick hits all the right notes, it’s like a reminiscence machine, tweaked to produce all the best memories of the original 1986 hit, remixing them almost the entire film. From the first title card to the last frame, Maverick is an homage, a pleasurable fever dream of the ‘80s, a throwback to simpler times, where the unnamed, unidentified, amorphous enemy is dispatched by the heroic, exceptional, uniquely-talented American patriots standing eternal watch on the battlements of freedom (when they’re not drinking beer or playing football, that is).

With 1.3 billion in ticket sales so far, Maverick is a huge hit for Paramount, although they reportedly spent over $170 million making it, plus tens of millions advertising it, which means it might not be as profitable as A24’s phenomenal, sure to be Best Picture nominee for 2022, Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. Nor is Maverick guaranteed any Oscar attention in anything but technical categories; the writing is cringe worthy most of the time, the performances, at best, a mixed bag between okay and awful. Most of the characters are one-note, depthless cardboard constructions, and the plot twists and turns, especially in the third act, are ludicrous.

It’s a fun film, by the end of it, you can’t help but want to cheer; Maverick is as much a celebration of Top Gun as it is a recruiting poster for the United States Armed Forces, who allowed the crew of the film access to airplane tech that no movie studio could possibly afford. They were actually inside F18 super hornets, flying in seats behind the real Navy pilots actually flying the $65 million dollar machines. While we’re not sure how real the dogfighting, and piloting scenes in the movie were, the sailing scene, part of a romantic montage of Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connely’s characters growing closer over time, is patently ludicrous. They are sailing a gorgeous J125, but things didn’t go according to plan.

They had to film the sailing scene twice, because the first time (filmed in San Diego) it was too calm, and Tom Cruise didn’t like how slow they were going. He needed to be going faster. This wasn’t the highway to the relaxation zone, after-all. So they filmed it again, in rougher, more windy conditions, in San Francisco, only they kept the same basic dialogue, the same premise, shooting the same lines at “an impossible angle, moving so fast with big waves.” So the boat is incredibly overpowered, at an almost unsustainable angle, and what does Penny do? She tells Maverick to tighten the jib, and to work the winch, which would have made them go even faster, at an even more reckless angle, when she should, as a responsible Captain, let the jib sail out, loosen the boom, and flatten the boat out a bit.

Then, moments later, Captain Penny, who not only owns an oceanfront bar in San Diego, but also a racing J125, tells Maverick she’s gonna hit the afterburners, and they start unfurling their spinnaker sail, a huge balloon normally reserved for harnessing light wind. Putting a spinnaker up in gale force winds would be the last move any kind of experienced sailor would make, if anything a responsible Captain would be reefing, or almost completely furling all of their sails in conditions like those until their vessel is no longer overpowered, and is completely within their control. Anything less would be unsafe (like not wearing PFDs), but Maverick thrives on being reckless, on going against all conventional wisdom (he literally tosses the F18 training manual into the trash on his first day ‘teaching’), so perhaps Penny is just giving Mav a taste of what the wild side of sailing looks like. After all, it would be boring and narratively stunting if they just showed us Mav and Penny having a real, human conversation on a boat with correct trim, moving at a moderate pace through dolphin filled waters, right?

Moving at anything but a dangerous pace would be a highway to the relaxation zone, not a highway to the danger zone, Maverick should stick to motorcycles and jets, if they absolutely need to go on the water, racing jet skis would have been more appropriate. Regardless, if you want to actually go sailing, at a reasonable pace, in aquamarine waters like the above pic from the Cayos Cochinos marine preserve in the Bay Islands of Honduras, give us a shout, and we'll put together a customized package that feeds your needs.


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