Zac Oppenheim is a June baby. And that June, like many others, his parents took advantage of Lake Michigan’s short sailing season.
He wasn’t born on the boat, but he might as well have been. He spent year after year on the water, and sailing became his life’s passion.
The coach and instructor has been in the Tampa Bay area since 2006, teaching others how to hit the water with nothing but the wind at their backs.
“This is the original wind power. We're not burning any fossil fuel, like literally being driven forward by the power of the wind,” he said.
Spectrum Bay News 9 caught up with Oppenheim at the St. Petersburg Sailing Center., where safety is lesson one (just in case you go swimming by accident)
Next up — finding the wind. You need it to fill the sail and make your boat move.
Then you take the tiller (a fancy word for lever) and steer the boat. It's connected to the rudder, which is connected to the back of the stern (the back of the boat).
"The rudder is the fin in the water that we can adjust that actually steers us,” Oppenheim explained.
And be ready to make small adjustments as you go. Oppenheim says you can’t always go in a straight line when you’re relying on wind power.
“We could come out here and sail on this exact same path tomorrow, and the next day we're going to see different animals where the sun's going to be different, the clouds are going to be different, the wind is going to be different, the waves are going to be different.”
And an added bonus in the coronavirus era — social distancing.
“We're about it. This is us," said Oppenheim, gesturing to the open water all around. "We've got the bay to ourselves. This is our backyard, and it is so awesome to be out here and relax and enjoy.”
After learning to sail, the center offers a membership in order to take out their sailboats. It's a way to lower the financial barriers to sailing.