Interviewing a Sailor “Charlie Hohmier” Transpac 2015
By: Nick Fugate
1) When did you start sailing?
I had a late start, I was 25 years old. I learned the mechanics of a big boat before I understood anything about sailing. In my early days of sailing I crewed a bit on Heritage (the reinforced America’s Cup boat). I was always amazed at the scale of big boats.
2) How did you get involved with Bretwalda?
It started a long time ago when I sailed on a boat named J-Sen. That’s when I met the present owner of Bretwalda. Through the years, we’ve stayed friends and continued to do some sailing together. Recently, he started campaigning Bretwalda and I was happy to help.
3) What is your position on the boat? Does it change at times?
Officially, I was the navigator and pit man on this race. Especially on a long race, it changes often. There were times I was at every position. Actually, foredeck was the one position that I didn’t fill - which must be a sign of my age! There are also the logistic support tasks – making water, making dinner, and checking that we didn’t pick up any debris on the rudder or keel.
4) How do you prepare for a Long Distance
For this race, some performance predictions started six months ago. Those results led to sail selection for Bretwalda. As navigator, I started paying attention to weather for this race a month before the race. At that time, I was familiarizing myself with the “normal” weather patterns on the course. As the race time got close, more and more time was spent predicting what weather we might experience.
5) Is this any different than a buoy race regatta?
In general, there are fewer turns and more meals.
6) What do you normally bring with you?
Over the years, I have pared down the items in my sail bag to keep light, but not compromise function. The available gear has gotten better. For example, rather than boots, I use a good pair of “smart” socks under a pair of water proof socks in addition to my sailing shoes. It works great and is much lighter. But I’m not on the foredeck. I have seen race web sites (Bermuda) that include detailed information on what should be packed. It is a great check. A few go-to items that I include, such as baby wipes and safety gear, have been included in Bretwalda’s inventory.
7) Does the skipper limit the amount of gear you are allowed to bring?
Not officially. Every crew member is a willing participant in the weight game. Weight is so important that it is understood our sea bags contain only what we need – and a GoPro.
8) What was the scariest position you have ever ended up in?
Sailing on a T-10?
9) Have you ever been afraid for your life?
I’ve learned to trust the boats I sail on and the crew I sail with. Knowing that you are on a proper yacht with crew you can count on lessens your fear.
10) Was there any fear going into this race?
Yes, but not so much for my life. There was more fear of not performing as well as I would like.
There was a Cyclone in the area of the race which caused a good amount of consternation. I was keeping close to some great weather resources which helped alleviate my fears of that forecast. It was my job to keep us out of trouble.
11) What do you enjoy more Ocean sailing or Lake sailing?
Yes. Actually, if I think about it, fresh water is a great luxury. Salt never goes away.
12) How’s the after party?
We finished and then had to wait 8 hours before we could go into the harbor. A gale in Tasmania caused surf that was dangerous to entering boats. That caused some disappointment.
When we did get on shore, our assigned welcome team was waiting with breakfast and rum. They make themselves available for providing the welcome food and drink no matter what time you finish. That was a great little party. Twenty three hours after that, I was in the airport headed home. It was a slow race so the scheduled down time after the race was cut short. It only gave me time for drinks by the pool, dinner and a nap. Because the race is so long, the official party was days after our finish. That gave the little boats time to get there. Unfortunately I don’t know how the party was!