A Sailor from a Young Age: The story of Captain Ralf

Posted Aug 11 2021 in Guides

If you love boating as much as we do, you probably dreamed of being a captain one day and roaming the seas at one point in your life. That’s the case for the Sail.me brand ambassador, Captain Ralf. He discovered his passion for sailing from a very young age, and with the unconditional support of his family, his dream came true.

Stick around to hear about his inspiring journey of becoming a captain, and stay tuned for more exciting stories from the real-life sailor!

Inspired from a young age...

Nothing teaches and prepares a child for life on a boat like a mutual interest with their parents towards boating. “My father was the head of the sailing club of Lake Constance. There were groups of kids sailing 8-12 years old”, Captain Ralf shares, “I was there every day with my father.”

This is a photo of young Captain Ralf on the helm, sailing during the winter season.

His father had a huge influence on his life, and pretty quickly boating became the young Ralf’s passion as well. He started visiting the sailing club when he was 3 years old, and soon began begging his father to join him and his fellow sailors for a ride on their optimist (dinghy) boats. 

Here is what Captain Ralf told Sail.me about learning how to sail: “I learned sailing when I was 3 and a half. Most of it I taught myself.” Young Ralf was eager and determined to follow his childhood passion, so he put a lot of work into it. He was first allowed to sail alone in the harbor. When he was only 5 years old, he was already sailing one mile in front of the harbor.

That’s the young adventurer on his parents' boat. Every year Ralf and his parents headed on a 6 weeks family vacation around Lake Constance. Ralf shares that often his parents took a bigger boat and he followed them on his dinghy.

Youthful passion towards boating...

In the next couple of years, Ralf was allowed to sail on the whole lake for the entire day. And when he was 10, he was even allowed to stay for the weekend: “I was allowed to sail with my dinghy, sleep on the beach with my friends, and come back home on Sunday evening.”

“Through all this time I went through all the dinghies - laser, 420, 470,545, the racing classes.”, Captain Ralf shares with Sail.me. However, his youthful boating experience was more than just driving oppies.

Here we can see the 12-years old sailor Ralf with his friends, on a very old dinghy they had at the sailing club.

Ralf was skilled and determined, and when he was 11 or 12, he had the opportunity to navigate bigger boats as well: “I didn’t have a sailing license but my friends gave me their catamaran.”

The first racing escapade of Captain Ralf…

Young Ralf started racing right at the beginning of his teenage years. He took part in many boating competitions and championships, but the most memorable one from his youth was the European championship he attended in 1987.

“I started on the helm for my first biggest race.”, Captain Ralf recalls, “I became 3rd with a very old boat with bad radar plates which were broken and my father repaired them the night before. I came up 3rd as the youngest sailor in the competition.”

Ralf sailing with a friend in 1986. This photo was taken and published for the European championship in 1987.

Ever since that moment, Captain Ralf was even more motivated to continue pursuing his passion for sailing. “I won a lot of races with different catamarans and so my journey started...”

Eager to learn more about how his journey of becoming a captain started? Or get pro recommendations on how to be a better sailor? Get ready for more inspiring stories of sailing by the Sail.me brand ambassador, Captain Ralf!

Stay tuned for our new blog series!

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