From hardcore racers like pop legend Simon Le Bon to George Clooney's love of motor yachts, here is our pick of the celebrities who adore sailing and boating.

Simon Le Bon

Simon Le Bon Whitbread Round the World

The frontman of Duran Duran’s sailing career hit the headlines in 1985 when his 77-foot maxi yacht, Drum, lost its keel and capsized during the Fastnet Race.

Simon Le Bon and other crew members were trapped inside the boat until they were rescued off the Cornish coast.

Determined to sail again, Le Bon refitted Drum and continued with his plans to compete in the 1985-1986 Whitbread Round the World Race.

Skippered by Skip Novak, Drum came in third overall in elapsed time.

Twenty years later, Le Bon once again competed in the Fastnet on board Drum, determined to conquer the race that has so nearly cost him his life.

However, delayed by light winds, he was forced to abandoned the race to perform with Duran Duran in Japan.

Le Bon owned Drum during the height of his pop career in the 1980s, before selling it to Scottish motoring tycoon, Sir Arnold Clark.

In 1987, the singer, along with his wife, Yasmin, and the rest of Drum’s crew answered a MAYDAY call from a yacht off the coast of Venezuela.

Karen McCracken and her family were sailing to Belize when they got caught in a storm and were blown onto a reef.

More recently, Le Bon joined America’s Cup hopefuls, Land Rover BAR, on board AC45F during the 2015 America’s Cup World Series Portsmouth event.


Timothy Spall

Timothy Spall

Actor Timothy Spall and his wife, Shane, spent eight years cruising the waterways of Britain after buying their first narrowboat in 1997.

They then decided they wanted to go further afield and found a specialist boat builder to build them a sea-going barge, the Princess Matilda.

Their adventures on board their 16-metre Dutch canal barge have since been watched by thousands during the BBC Four series – Timothy Spall: Somewhere at Sea, Timothy Spall: Back at Sea and Timothy Spall: All at Sea.

The three series follows the Spalls as they journey around the coast of Britain in their £200,000 barge.

The voyage has also been chronicled in two books by Shane – The Voyages of the Princess Matilda and The Princess Matilda Comes Home – The Adventure Of A Lifetime Around Britain On A Barge.


Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman sailing

“My earrings are worth just enough to buy me a coffin if I die in a strange place. That was the reason why sailors used to wear them,” said Morgan Freeman.

The Hollywood actor fell in love with sailing when he saw a sailboat gliding on San Francisco Bay in 1961.

Six year later, he sailed for the first time in a 18-foot Lightning-class centreboat boat on a reservoir in Stowe, Vermont.

Since then, sailing has became his “refuge and passion”.

His first boat was a Holland-built Holiday 28, and for 16 years, Freeman sailed out of Eastchester Bay.

He explored the waters and anchorages of Long Island Sound, Block Island, the Elizabeth Islands, Cape Cod, the coast of Maine, and up to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

He first sailed to the Caribbean in 1979 on a 30-foot (9.14-meter) Alberg-designed sloop with a crew that included his wife, daughter and family cat, Zipper.

It took nine days to reach Bermuda and they stayed for six weeks, hitting a storm with 50-knot winds on their return journey.

In 1989, on board his Shannon 38, Sojourner, Freeman went as far as Sombrero Rock, north of St. Martin, and then two years later began cruising the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Since then, the Hollywood actor has sailed as far as Trinidad, exploring the Caribbean on his new Shannon 43.


Neil Young

Neil Young

Credit: Andrea Barsanti – Spirit Road/Wikimedia Commons

For more than 35 years, Canadian rock legend, Neil Young, owned the two-masted, gaff-rigged schooner, W.N. Ragland.

Originally built of oak in 1913, the 100-foot Baltic trader is a far cry from the yachts usually associated with rock stars.

The ship needed serious renovating when Young purchased it, buying enough mahogany to fill a railroad truck to replank the schooner.

As well as cruising the world with friends and family, Young also reportedly leant out W.N. Ragland for scientific expeditions to Hawaii and Alaska.

He sold the vessel to Walter Wallace of Wallace Yacht Co. in Port Townsend, Washington.

Interestingly, Young’s fellow band member in Crosby, Stills and Nash, David Crosby was also a passionate sailor, owning a John Alden designed schooner, Mayan.

The song, Wooden Ships, is believed to have been written onboard in 1968 when the ship was moored at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.


Prunella Scales and Timothy West

Prunella Scales and Timothy West

Fawlty Towers actress Prunella Scales, and her husband actor Timothy West have been avid boaters since living on a barge during their early acting days to save money.

Now self-confessed “canal nuts”, the couple like nothing more than exploring Britain’s waterways.

Since 2014, their love of canal boating has been passed on to Channel 4 viewers through the programme, Great Canal Journeys.

The series has seen the couple explore not only the canals and rivers of the UK, but also further afield in France, Venice, Sweden and Amsterdam.

West, who has owned a narrowboat since 1979, is also vice-president of The Waterways Trust, the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust and a patron of the Huddersfield Canal Society.

He was also involved in the restoration of The Waverley, the world’s last ocean-going paddle steamer.


Errol Flynn

Errol Flynn
“The only real wives I have ever had have been my sailing ships,” so said one of the original Hollywood bad boys, Errol Flynn.

Dead by the age of 50, the hard drinking actor’s love affair with the sea and sailing began after he spent his early years around the Australian ports of Sydney and Hobart.

His first yacht was the Sirocco, which he sailed up the coast to New Guinea where the boat was wrecked.

After finding fame in Hollywood, Flynn purchased a second yacht, also named Sirocco, in 1938, often disappearing for days sailing.

In 1946, he brought the 118-foot schooner, Zaca, which he owned until he died.

He used the schooner to make a short documentary film, Cruise of the Zaca, which follows Flynn and his father, Professor Theodore Flynn, collecting specimens.

The voyage was done in association with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography of the University of California and took place off the east coast of Mexico and in the West Indies.

When Flynn died, his only real possession was the Zaca.


Griff Rhys-Jones

Griff Rhys-Jones at the helm of his classic yacht, Undina, with sailing celebrities Laura Baldwin, Phil Sharp and actor Geoffrey Hughes, raising awareness for Sail 4 Cancer

Griff Rhys-Jones at the helm of his classic yacht, Undina, with sailing celebrities Laura Baldwin, Phil Sharp and actor Geoffrey Hughes, raising awareness for Sail 4 Cancer

Comedian and television personality, Griff Rhys-Jones started sailing as a child.

His father had a boat in West Mersea on Mersea Island, which they would sail around the coast of Suffolk and into The Broads.

An enthusiastic sailor, Rhys-Jones brought his 45-foot classic yacht, Undina, reportedly spending £500,000 on its restoration.

The Philip Rhodes yacht went on to star in the BBC series Three Men in Another Boat before being listed for sail in 2013.

Since then, Rhys-Jones has brought a 1948 57-foot Sparkman and Stephens designed yawl, Argyll.

Built by Simms of Massachusetts in 1948, the yacht is used primarily for racing, and was the winner of the Bonifacio Trophy and the Coupe Des Dames in St Tropez in 2014, and come second in the Panerai Transat in March 2015.

Rhys-Jones skippered Argyll in the 2015 Fastnet Race.

He has also written about his sailing exploits.

In the Baltic with Bob records his 2002 journey to Russia on “an elderly yacht” with his friend, Bob and Baines who “knew how to mend the engine”.

He has also published Rivers: One man and his dog paddle into the heart of Britain, which follows Rhys-Jones as he explores some of Britain’s most well known rivers with his dog, Cadbury.


Jeremy Irons

Jeremy Irons

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Actor Jeremy Irons was “brought up sailing” after growing up in Bembridge on the Isle of Wight where his father was a founding members of the local sailing club.

After learning to sail on dinghies, Irons has now gone on to bigger and faster vessels, famously competing in the fourth leg of the BT Global Challenge round the world yacht race.

Joining the crew of LG Flatron, he spent seven days sailing across the Tasman Sea from Wellington to Sydney, coming second in their section “by about five seconds”.

The ‘Stealing Beauty’ actor has his own ketch, Willing Lass, and often raves about sailing along the West Cork coast where he lives.

He took part in the 2015 Baltimore Wooden Boat Festival, and the Round Island Race, crewing for Conrad Humphreys on his 40-foot catamaran.


Zac Efron

Zac Efron

Teen idol, Zac Efron was bitten by the sailing bug after learning to sail for his role in the movie, ‘Charlie St. Cloud’.

In an interview with the Arizona Republic, he stated that he decided to take the title role after reading the script while spending time on a sailboat with his father.

Prior to filming, Efron took an intense course of sailing lessons out of Vancouver, learning how to capsize and sail a dinghy.

He said he would now like to move onto something bigger and try long-distance sailing with his father. His dream destination would be Hawaii.



JFK sailing in Maine on board the Presidential yacht, Manitou

JFK sailing the presidential yacht, Manitou. Credit: Robert L. Knudsen

Sailing was one of JFK’s greatest loves.

The US President learnt to sail as a child  and owned a series of Star class boats as a teenager – Flash and Flash II – with his brother, Joseph.

Flash II was his favourite, sailing it in the waters of Nantucket Sound.

An avid sailor, JFK won the Nantucket Sound Star Class Championship in Flash II, and raced the boat while at Harvard, winning the 1938 McMillan Cup.

He sold the boat in 1941, but still got out on the water with his 26-foot Wianno Senior sloop, Victura, which was a 15th birthday present from his parents.

Victura was arguably the most cherished boat in JFK’s life – it was the boat he taught his wife, Jackie, to sail in, the boat he and Jackie were photographed on for the famous Life magazine shoot which helped create the Kennedy brand.

It is also the boat he took his children sailing in during family holidays at Cape Cod.

He even sketched the Victura during many of his meetings during his presidency.

As president, JFK also enjoyed the 92-foot wooden presidential yacht, which he renamed the Honey Fitz, although he continued to look for a presidential sailing yacht.

He found a 62-foot Sparkman and Stephens yacht, Manitou and had the vesse; refitted with the latest communications equipment so he could stay in touch with his office – it became knowns as the “Floating White House”.


David Suchet

David Suchet on a narrowboat

Credit: Canal & River Trust

Although his most famous role, Hercule Poirot, suffers from the “mal de mer”,  actor David Suchet certainly doesn’t!

His fascination with narrowboats and canals has now become his passion.

The actor and his wife, Sheila spent six years living on a 53-foot narrowboat, Prima Donna, after spotting it from the window of Suchet’s dressing room at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon.

They moved back onto dry land following the arrival of children, although Britain’s waterways were the focus of many family holidays and it wasn’t long before a second narrowboat was bought.

They now own their third narrowboat – a 70-foot vessel – and Suchet has become something of an advocate for the preservation and restoration of the country’s canals and rivers.

He is is currently vice-president of the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Trust, a past chairman of the River Thame Alliance and patron of the River Thames Boat Project.

He is also a friend of the Canal and River Trust.


George Clooney

George Clooney and Sandra Bullock in Venice

As a resident on Lake Como in Italy, as well as other addresses, ‘Gravity’ actor, George Clooney is no stranger to boating.

He is often photographed on the water with various friends at the wheel of classically designed motor yachts.

According to media reports, he has brought a £10,000 row boat for his estate at Sonning Eye on the River Thames in Oxfordshire.

The Georgian house is situated on its own five-and-a-half acre island.