It’s no secret that Homer has a vibrant boating community. Beyond the halibut hopefuls, however, Homer draws a different type of boater a bit unexpected for the far north: the sailor.
Founded in 1983, the Homer Yacht Club has been sailing in Homer for about 30 years. But Erik Pullman, current commodore for the yacht club, remembers an informal organization actively sailing in Homer even before then. “We started in the late 1970s,” said Pullman, “but it wasn’t until 1983 that we became official.”
Dedicated to popularizing the sport of sailing, the Homer Yacht Club holds seven different sailboat races, called “regattas,” a year. This includes their largest event, the annual Land’s End Regatta. This year, the Land’s End Regatta was June 26-28 with the start line right off the viewing deck at Land’s End Resort (see related story, this page).
“The (Land’s End) regatta is an effort to reach out to the public and get them engaged in the whole concept of sailboat racing,” said Pullman.
“All of us that own boats in the yacht club love to teach people how to sail,” said Pullman. “I’ve had lots of people on my boat during race day where it is their first time on a sailboat and it just blows their mind.”
Although racing is a main part of the club’s activities, the Homer Yacht Club also emphasizes boating safety. Johann Willrich, a member of the club since 2006 and now on the board of directors, touts safety as a top priority of the club.
“Part of the reason we race our boats is so that we can make decisions under stress,” said Willrich. “You want to do everything in the right order at the right time when you’re racing, so you don’t waste time. We’re going to teach our members and fellow captains that when you react, it needs to be at the right time, for the right purpose.”
The Homer Yacht Club holds a variety of safety seminars for its members including man-overboard drills (of which Willrich was once the proud rescuee), flare practice, navigation and basic seamanship.
The only requirement for becoming a member of the Yacht Club is an interest in sailing. Both new and seasoned sailors enjoy the chance to socialize and learn together.
“It’s nice to be able to speak to someone in a language that they understand,” said Willrich.
Pullman wholeheartedly agreed, saying, “There’s a lot of folks in the club that have been sailing in Alaska for many, many years. I’ve really enjoyed being able to learn from them about what it takes to be a sailor up here in the high latitudes.”