sail close to the wind

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Related to sailed close to the wind: off the wind

sail close to the wind

To do something risky or dangerous. If you keep sailing close to the wind, the police are going to arrest you eventually.
See also: close, sail, wind

sail close to the wind

Be on the verge of doing something illegal or improper, as in She was sailing pretty close to the wind when she called him a liar. This term alludes to the danger incurred when literally sailing too close to (that is, in the direction of) the wind. Its figurative use dates from the first half of the 1800s.
See also: close, sail, wind

sail close to the wind

mainly BRITISH
If someone or something sails close to the wind, they take a risk by doing or saying something which almost breaks rules or laws. Max warned her she was sailing dangerously close to the wind and risked prosecution. I have never known a comedy series to sail so close to the wind. Note: If someone sails a boat too close to the wind, they try to sail in the direction from which the wind is blowing, and stop or capsize as a result.
See also: close, sail, wind

sail close to (or near) the wind

verge on indecency, dishonesty, or disaster. informal
This originated as a nautical expression, meaning ‘sail as nearly against the wind as is possible’. It has been in figurative use since the mid 19th century.
1996 Martin Dove How To Win Any Consumer Competition I like the extra thrill of writing to a tight deadline but sometimes I do sail a bit close to the wind with closing dates.
See also: close, sail, wind

sail close to the ˈwind

behave in a way that is almost illegal or socially unacceptable: She’s been late for work three times this week, which is sailing close to the wind, I think.
See also: close, sail, wind
References in periodicals archive ?
Carlow sailed close to the wind when struggling past London last weekend and could be vulnerable to a sucker punch from Leitrim but that wake-up call for Anthony Rainbow's men should help refocus minds and secure a third win in succession.
Since then, he has sailed close to the wind with his gambling empire, thwarting the US vice squad and taxman by holding his assets offshore.
For too long McKeown and others who have sailed close to the wind have been given an easy ride by pliant, matey, media men, but do you know how many riders have been punished for abusing privileged information in recent years?
And Wigan have sailed close to the wind so many times you wonder if this might be the year their luck runs out.
The gifted Irishman, though rightly cleared of race-fixing at the Old Bailey, has plainly sailed close to the wind and may yet have to answer to the BHA given that he admitted betting during his trial.
Keane sailed close to the wind in Macedonia where, after getting a yellow card early in the game, he became involved after the late incident which saw Jason McAteer walk.
The show sailed close to the wind a few times but, compared to the savagery of current funny men such as Frankie Boyle or Jimmy Carr, it seemed quite a gentle affair.
Lee wrote: "The attraction of a flash character [Brian Wright] who carried bundles of banknotes and evidently sailed close to the wind was too much for Bradley.
BROOKSIDE sailed close to the wind with their incest storyline.
I wouldn't say I've been getting hate mail - but one or two letters, written by anonymous cowards, sailed close to the wind.
The suspension was confirmed by the Kerry county board yesterday and comes as no surprise after the player sailed close to the wind on several occasions over the course of Sunday's Munster final win over Limerick.