The wind blows through the high grass at the bank, and the surface of the water ripples in the warm sun. Beams of light are interrupted by small glittering waves, and birdsong fills the air. Spring is coming and the air is getting warmer.After the long winter break, the shores of the big lakes are bustling with people. Just before winter set in, the Fox met the little girl and her sailing boat called Wildling.
Now winter is over, and the sailing season has also started up again. We asked the Wildling sailors what they love about sailing. What makes the sport so special? Is there something like a hibernation period over the winter? From what age are children ready to go on the water alone, sailing with the wind across lakes? @wildlifeonthesea answered some of the Fox’s questions.
Sailing gives you self-confidence and a feeling of freedom
The basic connection with one of our strongest elements is what makes sailing so special. There’s a feeling of joy and self-confidence when you’re exposed to wind and water in a small sailing boat, and yet still move forward with the help of those elements. The feeling of freedom that comes with that is almost indescribable.
Steering a boat through the waves on the water and mastering it gives you an unbelievable confidence in your own powers. Sailors large and small gain self-assurance. Whether they’re sailing with others in a group, on a large boat with a crew or with other sailors on the water in individual boats, they come back to land stronger, with a wealth of new experiences.
That’s because there are often “extreme situations” which only occur on the water. Experiencing and “surviving” those moments together strengthens and encourages both individuals and the group.
After the winter break comes the spring awakening
You can go sailing at any time. However, there are some sailing areas that have a winter break. Regatta sailors then generally switch to other areas where they can continue training, or use the colder time of year for theory, focussing on knots, coping with various weather conditions or physical fitness.
At the Steinhuder Meer we’re happy when winter is finally over and the largest lake in north-west Germany is open for sailing again. It’s always a special moment when you go back on the water again for the first time in the year.
Love of water
Important prerequisites for children being allowed to sail are the ability to swim and a love of the element water. They should enjoy being on the water and not be afraid of it.
This fear can also change over time. Last year, Leonie’s little sister was still very wary and also afraid of the water. But this winter she took the theoretical part of the youth sailing license. With her newly acquired knowledge she feels so secure that she has now sailed confidently and fearlessly in strong winds!
Over six hours on the water with 130 sailors
When you're on the water, unforeseen and extremely challenging situations may arise at any time, and the young sailors must know exactly what to do.
One experience Leonie had in the past week was that she capsized. Her coach was busy helping someone else at that moment, meaning that Leonie was on her own. She righted her Opti all by her herself and sailed on.
Another big and motivating moment came last weekend, when Leonie took part in one of the biggest regattas there is. A total of 130 boats took part. The sailors were on the water for over six hours, and Leonie sailed her way to first place in one of the races! Considering that it was only her fifth regatta ever, that was an absolutely massive achievement! Back on land, everyone congratulated her effusively on her biggest personal success to date!
In the time between regattas...
... it’s all about training, training, training. Once the sailing season has started again, for example following the opening event at Lake Garda, the sailors spend nearly half the year on or by the water. A regatta sailor clocks up about 150 sailing days per year.
Sailing in barefoot shoes
Particularly in the summer, it's lots of fun to sail while wearing Wildlings. The water-permeable models made of washi (our Tanukis) are particularly suitable. These minimal shoes are so light on the feet that Leonie can move flexibly when she’s on the boat. Now she’s waiting for the slightly warmer temperatures when she can conquer the waves not completely barefoot, but almost barefoot in her Wildlings.
To find out about Leonie’s and Wildling’s adventures on the water, how a regatta works and what the wild life on the water looks like, see their Instagram channel: @wildlifeonthesea
Meanwhile the Fox is enjoying the fresh spring weather, observing the little wild boat and warming his fur a little in the sun.
Run and sail wild! Team Wildling