The cold water slaps against the glassy smoothness of the side of the boat. The wind is picking up and the sky is draped with clouds. Pushing the wet hair out of her face, Leonie (name changed) looks out over the water. Only four boats are in front of her. Together with Wildling - that's the name of her little wild sailing boat - she's left the others behind.
From a distance, the fox looks over the water. It's not his time of day, but what the little girl and the little white boat - also called an Opti - are doing on the water looks exciting.
Our encounter with the little sailing boat
You might remember that we mentioned it a little while ago: We want to share with you the many exciting, wild encounters that we keep having. For some time the “Wildling” Opti and its young sailor, Leonie, have been two of our companions. How this encounter came about, what exactly an Opti is and where our journey has taken us up to now you can find out here.
The “Wildling” Optimist
An Opti is a sailing boat specially developed for children. The name Opti is simply the short form of Optimist. Which is not only a person with a positive view of the world, but also the smallest sailing boat, in which children as young as 6 to 8 years old can already go out on the water. The youngest sailors use this first sailing boat for learning in, for fun, and even in regattas.
The thing about an Opti is that it’s considered unsinkable. With its small sail and the special shape of the hull it’s designed to be very hard to capsize.
However, it's important that those who sit in an Opti and sail it are able to swim. Whenever she goes out in the Opti, Leonie wears not only her Wildlings but also a life jacket. Wearing the minimal shoes doesn't only save weight, but it also means Leonie can be agile and nimble, and she has a good feel for the surface underfoot. This is an additional bonus on the floor of the boat, which can be slippery. When the weather's colder, she adds neoprene shoes, or even wears them instead. It all depends how cold and wet the weather conditions are. Because when she goes out on the water in the Opti, the two of them can be out there for eight hours at a time. So it's important to work as an established team.
“How brave,” thinks the fox, watching the little girl in her Opti.
Wild life on the sea
If you go out on the water, you have to know exactly what you're doing. As well as being able to handle the Opti, this includes knowledge of the rules on the water, knot techniques, and also being able to judge the wind and the weather.
It can often get pretty wild on the water. The fox, too, sees that from a distance. Although he's able to swim, he’s not passionate about it. Being together with the little girl in the “Wildling” Opti, though - that he could imagine.
With Leonie and the “Wildling” Opti we want to take you on an adventure on and by the water. What are the parts of the boat called? What are all the things I have to know as an Opti captain? What different knots are there, and which knot is suitable for which purpose? Why is the Opti put down to rest over the winter, how does training look then, and how do the young sailors get themselves and the little boat ready in the spring? What wildlife is to be found on the banks of rivers and lakes in Germany? How do you prepare for regattas, and when have you actually won?
For all these questions and a glimpse into the many adventures of the little “Wildling” Opti, see our Instagram channel @wildlifeonthesea.
A fat raindrop splashes on to the wet fox nose. It's time to look for shelter and observe the wild activities on the water from there. Autumn is coming and with it some stormy moments. Stay wild.
Run wild! Anna, Ran & the Wildlings