A Remembrance of Carol Hill
In 2012 Carol and Bruce Hill were named LCYC's "Yachtsman of the Year". Below is the tribute that past Commodore and current Historian Bern Collins paid to Carol and Bruce on that memorable occasion.
Lake Champlain Yacht Club Yachtsman of the Year Award
In the 39 years since the Yachtsman of the Year Award was started by Commodore Bob Henshaw in 1973, to give special recognition to a club member who is not a member of the Board of Governors, it has been given to only three couples—this year will make it four. The recipients of this year’s award joined LCYC in 1969, not long after its reactivation in 1962. In the few minutes I have, there is not enough time to do justice to their many contributions but in looking at the arc of their 43-year membership, here are a few highlights—and there is no way I can describe these without naming the couple about halfway through.
The wife of this team is representative of the type of member that this award is intended to celebrate—someone who can be relied upon through the years to “show up”—show up for workdays, for special projects, committees, and to help out at Burger Burns. Beginning in the early 1970s and into the early 1990s, she and her husband, a well-known winning skipper, enjoyed what many remember as a unique era in racing on Lake Champlain—this was when the LCRC (the Lake Champlain Racing Conference) was alive and active, when Wednesday Night Races were just up to Proctor and back, and the weekend races were the “hot ones—the really important ones, the ones that mattered.” Those were the days when clubs around the lake—MBBC, Valcour, LCYC—each sponsored two long-distance races, two-day races, and two weekend-long races.
Although she enjoyed going out for a sail, her participation in these major races was primarily to provide support and to provision the crew, since the major chore of the care and feeding of crew used to fall on the skipper’s wife. In this case, it meant many years of making countless sandwiches and what she called her “mung” casseroles for the overnight races. The size of the crew increased as the size of their boats increased—from a Morgan 24 to a Pearson 28, and, finally to a Holland 41 2-ton, which meant making 16 sandwiches—and that was just for lunch! Her name, however, is on a trophy won by the Morgan 24 in 1970. Her husband had postponed putting a name on the boat, so when then Commodore Bill O’Brien asked him what name he should engrave on the trophy he was told “Agnes”—and that’s how it is listed on the Web site—but, for whatever reason, Bill O’Brien ignored Bruce Hill and instead engraved the trophy with the name “Carol Hill,” and I assume that trophy is still on their shelf at home.
Carol’s husband, Bruce, is known as one of the “winning-est” skippers on Lake Champlain—also one of the most respected and admired. After sailing the Holland 41, Golden Dazy, in the Bermuda Race in 1980 (before GPS), Bruce, his youngest daughter Jeannie, son Jeff, and daughter-in-law Dot, began winning just about every race on Lake Champlain, including four Ladies Cup Regattas, and several Lady Skipper’s races—Dot is as fierce a competitor as anyone in the Hill family. (Dot has won the Lady Skipper’s race 14 times!) One wall in Bruce & Carol’s home is filled with trophies and plaques.
Golden Dazy was finally sold in 2003, but during the almost quarter century of Bruce & Carol’s ownership, its winning ways included more than coming in first and collecting trophies. Although Jeff was often the one charged with gathering crew (usually 8 to 10), Bruce always welcomed young, energetic people who were new to sailing and wanted to learn. Gene Cloutier is one example—his father had won a ride on Dazy in a raffle—and look where Geno is now—a two-time winner of the Ladies Cup. There were 20 life jackets onboard and the word was that the first 17 who showed up on Wednesday could crew in the Wednesday Night Race. Golden Dazy over the years had one of the most hard-working, most loyal crews, whose fondest memories include winning, of course, but also the camaraderie, good food, good drink and great company in good weather and bad—and even the one time it went aground off Stave—but, that’s another story.
There are many Hill family stories connected to Golden Dazy, and not enough time to share these, but as Jeff said recently, “It’s good to have my dad on any boat.” And that includes the Dinse, where Bruce has served as Race Committee on weekends and Wednesday nights, plus Junior Sailing Regattas. And, Bruce has served in less glamorous roles, including Club Liaison with the Town of Shelburne, and before the club was hooked up to Shelburne’s water system, he filled in for Jack Stephens as the club plumber. One of his less-known talents is playing the keyboard, which many of us enjoyed at Carol & Bruce’s 50th Wedding Anniversary dinner in 2007, with their gorgeous children Jeff, Mary and Jeannie, and their beautiful grandchildren.
On behalf of the Board, it is my great pleasure and honor to present this year’s Lake Champlain Yacht Club Yachtsman of the Year trophy to Carol & Bruce Hill.
Presentation by Bern Collins, on behalf of the Lake Champlain Yacht Club Board of Governors, at Change of Watch, January 21, 2012.