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Bay Area’s J/125 ‘Rufless’ Gains Movie Star Status

Could sailboats turning into movie stars be a growing trend? First it was the appearance of two SailGP F50s in the sci-fi thriller Tenet, which featured the Japan and US foiling catamarans racing on the Solent. Now, the new Top Gun film starring Tom Cruise features a well-known Bay Area J/125, Rufless.

Rufless, owned by Rufus Sjoberg, finished first on both the Saturday and Sunday of this year’s Great Vallejo Race. But before that, she featured in a six-minute-long scene in Top Gun: Maverick, the film that brings Cruise’s character, Maverick, face to face with the now-adult son of his former wingman, Goose.

In the scene, Cruise and co-star Jennifer Connelly are sailing on San Francisco Bay — sailing upwind, reaching, and setting the spinnaker downwind. And according to Stephen Colbert’s interview with Connelly on CBS’s The Late Show, Connelly did actually have the helm, as is portrayed in the film.

Cruise & Connelly J/125 Rufless
Connelly told Colbert she’d taken sailing lessons in the lead-up to filming Top Gun: Maverick.
© 2022 https://www.youtube.com/c/ColbertLateShow

Rufless appears to be moving very quickly, and Connelly looks to be in her element as she informs Cruise the conditions are, “A little rougher than I expected.” (Classic Bay Area sailing conditions.) After Maverick divulges his lack of sailing knowledge, he delivers another future classic movie line: “I don’t sail boats, Penny, I land on them.”

The boat scene had originally been filmed in San Diego amid beautiful conditions, and with dolphins! But the action was lacking, so it was reshot on San Francisco Bay, chosen for its windy reputation.

Here is the full interview, including a snippet of the co-stars sailing aboard Rufless:

The film is screening in theaters, and from what we’ve read, viewers are impressed!

7 Comments

  1. Captain Curt Taras 8 months ago

    The Top Gun Maverick Sailing Scene was exciting to watch, however it would have been even better with Tom Cruise wearing his life jacket outside his Tee Shirt and Jennifer Connelly wearing a tethered lifejacket and parka at the helm. The baylink ferry in the scene marked the location as San Francisco Bay being cast as a windy version of San Diego Harbor.

  2. Michael 8 months ago

    As can be inferred from his knowing nods and questions, Colbert is a legitimate sailor https://www.yachtingmagazine.com/stephen-colbert-sails-second/

  3. Jorge Morales 8 months ago

    Very interesting that the mainsail traveler is all the way to windward to avoid the mainsheet blocking Tom delivering his lines 🙂

    • Tony 3 months ago

      They’re sailing on a tight reach – I think the traveler is in the correct spot. But it would make sense to move it if they needed to get a clean shot.

  4. Peter Veasey 6 months ago

    The crew was down below

  5. Ed Kriese 5 months ago

    Don’t knit pick or whine about no PFDs…it’s just a movie.

  6. Harold Bradley 1 month ago

    We got a fantastic and very unexpected sailing scene in a mainstream movie. I was thrilled, so hopefully we can minimize the whining and critique and say yes thank you more sailing please!

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