The Danish school girls in the movie were meant to be French school girls in the original script. This change came about as a casting director who searched for French-speaking and -looking actresses met Danish actress Camilla Overbye Roos. The casting director wanted to cast her but she could not speak French. Overbye-Roos then suggested changing the French girls to Danish girls. The casting director asked her to find suitable Danish girls (which were found by contacting Danish exchange students and au-pair girls in America). Photos and screen test of the girls that were found were then sent to director Ridley Scott who approved the change.
Many sailors claimed no line squall existed. The derecho line thunderstorm that struck the USA Eastern Seaboard on 29 June 2012 is the kind of "line squall" that wrecked the actual sailboat on which the plot of the film is based.
The ship used in the film is the "Eye of the Wind", originally built in 1911 as a top-sail schooner and refitted in 1975 as a brigantine. She is now rigged as a Brig. It was also used in The Blue Lagoon (1980), Savage Island (1985), and Tai-Pan (1986).
At 5 feet and 1 inch tall, Jason Marsden ("Shay Jennings") was much shorter than the rest of the cast, so many of the scenes he appears in he either sitting down, or situated within the group so that his height is disguised
Director Dan Trachtenberg wrote on Twitter: "I love Ridley Scott's WHITE SQUALL. Who's with me?" Producer Megan Ellison answered: "I love White Squall. I wanted to live that story as a kid...well, the first 2/3 that is" [July 4, 2017]
When the boys return from the mountain, after signing the book, they are bare-chested with their faces painted. This is very reminiscent of 'Lord of the Flies', the 1990 theatrical version of which also starred Balthazar Getty.