Yacht America provides unusual way to see movies on the move


The entrepreneurial Troy Sears, of Next Level Sailing, has found another creative use for his prized Yacht America, a replica of the sailing ship that inspired the America’s Cup race series. In 2015 and 2016, Sears sailed it along the West and East Coasts as an America’s Cup ambassador, giving talks at yacht clubs along the way. He has long used the yacht for whale watching excursions and private San Diego Bay charters.

Now Sears is turning his ship into a floating cinema one evening a week. He is projecting feature films on the massive sail of the 139-foot-long vessel, just as the Star of India has done. Except that Yacht America’s movies will play while the ship is on a 7 to 10 p.m. cruise. Up to 20 viewers nestled securely on deck in beanbag chairs will get all the popcorn and candy they can eat and access to a full bar — for $95 a ticket.

In its trial run the other evening, Sears had two worries — chilly weather and tacking when they needed to turn the boat around. Neither proved a problem, thanks to blankets and a “tackmission,” the sailing version of an “intermission.” The movie was stopped briefly while sails swung to the other side.

Other films, scheduled for alternating Thursday and Friday nights, include Dr. No, Life of Pi, Hook and The Hunt for Red October, says the yacht’s first mate, Fathom Neft. Plus, Master and Commander will play with first-hand commentary from crew member Al Sorkin, who appeared in the film.

“We are the only ones I know of doing this,” says Sears. “It’s perfect for a date night.” The one movie he says they don’t plan to show, however, is Titanic.

Read more from Diane Bell’s column, here.