Steve Killing

Joined C&C's design office straight out of university in 1972 until 1979. Steve said, “Evergreen was very important—light, very beamy. 1 worked on it then sailed on her as foredeck. The C&C 40 was a great cruiser racer, aesthetically very pleasing. The 27, 30 and 35 were designed before 

I was there, but those are the classics and are still in great demand even though they're 30 years old.” GHC I think ‘grateful’ is the best word to describe my feelings toward Big George. When I was 17, I wrote a letter to George Cuthbertson that ultimately defined the path of my life. That sounds rather dramatic, but it is in fact true. Shortly before I had discovered there was an occupation dubbed ‘yacht designer’, I wrote George to get his advice on how to enter the field. He wrote me a letter than I am sure he sent to many young people, and his recommendation was to gain a degree in Engineering, get some experience in a boatyard and then slide into design. “It’s a small field but there is always room at the top”, he said. 

Only slightly discouraged, I obtained my Engineering degree and with some hesitation wrote back to Big George to say I was ready for my practical experience. He called me in for an interview and I must say to a young man of 21 years of age, the tall deep-voiced, brush cut George was an intimidating interviewer. At the end of the interview, he said in a somewhat casual tone, “We’ll, how about we give it a try for a month”. George was willing to take a risk and he took one with me. What a dream come true that was. As that one-month job stretched into 7 years, George did his best to manage an office full of over exuberant young designers who thought racing was the only thing that mattered in sailboats. As he moved from chief designer to President to retirement to President, he continued to check on the boats we were creating. The sign of a good manager is one who gives his employees enough freedom that they can take pride in their product. I would say George gave us a bit too much freedom. We were all about speed and he would continually remind us that the customers of C&C dream of racing, but in fact will mainly be cruising these boats. We spent many late nights drawing, in those days by hand, to meet the builder’s deadline and often our office clean-up got neglected. 

I recall arriving one morning after a late night to find a large note on top of the shambles of my desk that said “Your desk is a Mess. GHC.” With a smile I carried it into Rob Mazza’s office to find that he too was also holding a photocopy of the same letter. No one in the office was spared. To this day, when my desk gets out of control I think of that note. I love working in a tidy office, but seldom can keep it that way. George’s other lesson to us was delivered in a design meeting which he titled “Stewardship of Company Funds” I hardly knew what that meant and I think that illustrated the problem. He stressed the fact that even though we enjoyed our jobs, we were not working a vacuum - the money we spent, the research we did, and yes, the mistakes we made, all had a cost and we had to be accountable. His advice was intended to help C&C, but in fact he was helping us become better people. 

My yacht design career has now spanned almost 45 years and it is no exaggeration to say I owe it all to Big George. From my first letter, to my first job, to my yacht design education on the job, and finally to his support once I started my own company, he has always been a willing ear. And I always let George and Helen know of my gratitude. 

Thank you again George. 

Steve Killing 2018

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