MONROE - One of Michigan's best known sailors, who had won numerous world sailing honors and was a multiple gold medalist in the 1967 and 1975 Pan Am Games, was killed in a storm on Lake Erie while racing yesterday afternoon.
Bruce Gray Goldsmith, 71, formerly of Lenawee and Hillsdale counties, was pronounced dead at the Port of Monroe about an hour after he was thrown overboard from his boat, according to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office.
Mr. Goldsmith, who was the skipper on his boat, Send in the Clowns, was competing in the North Cape Yacht Club's Commodore Perry Race, when he ran into heavy rain and waves that were 6 to 8 feet high at about 1 p.m. near Monroe.
The boat's aluminum boom swung around and hit him in the head, throwing him into the water, according to the sheriff's office. One of Mr. Goldsmith's crew members jumped into the water, put a life jacket on Mr. Goldsmith, and struggled to hold him up for 10 minutes until competing boats heard their distress calls and got near enough to help.
Mr. Goldsmith was lifted onto Group Therapy, the boat of Dr. George Osborne, a Toledo dentist, whose crew attempted to resuscitate Mr. Goldsmith during the 50 minutes that it took the boat to sail about five miles to shore.
But Dr. Osborne said Mr. Goldsmith's head injury was so severe that he believes the skipper might have died even before he was thrown into the water.
"He'd been sailing boats all of his life," Dr. Osborne said. "One of the top sailers in the world."
Mr. Goldsmith was on a lighting-class team that won Pan Am gold in Winnipeg in 1967 and in Mexico City in 1975.
He had been a member of the yacht club for decades. He was a retired stockbroker who had lived on Devils Lake in Lenawee County and then in Hillsdale before moving several years ago to Tustin, in central Michigan's Osceola County.
Yesterday, his 29-foot boat was one of about 45 participating in a race that started at 9 a.m., according to Dr. Osborne. Most of the boats had five or six crew members on them for the
24-mile race that started and ended at the yacht club.
Sailing, according to Mr. Goldsmith's oldest daughter, Carrie Southern, was "certainly his passion, certainly his expertise."
"He was always the skipper, the one in charge," she continued. "He has charisma and charm. He's definitely a risk taker. He loved to win. But he also loved just to play."
His death, she said, came when he was doing what he loved.
"If he was going to go, that's exactly what he would have wanted," she said.