Tri-Island Wraps with a Sombrero

Seattle Yacht Club’s Tri-Island Series may be the most “Northwest” of all the racing series. It utilizes our abundance of islands to make interesting courses and turns, and offers three great tours of Puget Sound (and sometimes a bit beyond). Win or lose, sailing up and down the Sound is almost always a win. And when you get to wind your way around and over tight spots, using or avoiding currents and negotiating geographical wind glitches it’s always interesting. Sometimes maddening.

Blake Island Race

By all accounts the Blake Island Race was an entertaining and fairly fast race. Following is Crossfire‘s track.


Once again we’ve tapped into the Brains of Brad (Baker) of Swiftsure Yachts for analysis of how Crossfire sailed the course:

We had a good race on Crossfire. Bruce Hedrick’s forecast pretty much came to pass with a light air southerly drainage wind for the start going more easterly at West Point across Elliott Bay and with a northerly eventually filling. The three fastest boats, Smoke, Glory and Crossfire, had a very different race then the rest of the Blake Island fleet.  The start was in a 7-knot Southerly.  It was close between the three of us with Smoke initially doing the best job and grabbing the early lead,  followed by Glory then us. As we cleared West Point going south, the wind turned more ESE and the drag race was on! That is if you call 4–6 knots of boat speed in a dying 4-knot breeze a drag race! Ultimately. Crossfire was able to escape out front with a good lead. We were working the problem hard adjusting sails and skipper Lou Bianco did an excellent job of driving, but frankly I think the extra rig height on Crossfire is what tipped the scales in our favor as there was a bit more wind up high. By the time we cleared Restoration Point Crossfire had a healthy lead and never gave it up.  What was different for us three faster boats vs the rest of the fleet is we continued to sail in the southerly all the way to Blake Island. As we approached the turn at Blake we were hard on the wind as a 7 knot southerly had filled in, while we could see the bulk of the fleet coming down from the north under spinnaker. After rounding the island to starboard we parked on the East side, but were carried north at 1.5 knots in the perma-ebb on that side of the island. The northerly filled down to us quickly and we were off to the races again.  It was a beat……again, but this time in 14 knots.  We did get some fun spinnaker time from the turning mark at West Point to the finish off Elliott Bay Marina with a max speed of just over 15 knots on that leg. The wind gods and luck worked in Crossfire’s favor.  We finished 1st in class, Smoke 2nd and Glory 3rd.  That gave all three boats a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd finish for the series for a three way tie at 6 points each. Since Crossfire won the last race, we won the tie breaker to take the series. ORC seems to be working.  It’s worth noting that the J-145 Jedi won the overall for this race in ORC. The J/145 seems to rate fairly under ORC and is a great all around boat. (Ed. Note, making the shameless plug on behalf of Swiftsure Yachts: They have my old J/145 ride Double Take for sale right now.)

The Series Results

For this year’s Tri-Island series the wind gods were generally pretty cooperative with all three races successfully in the books.

Some of the happy Crossfire crew at the festive prizegiving and party at the Seattle Yacht Club Elliott Bay outstation. “I really LOVE sombreros, Nigel Barron explains. Clearly.

The “big boat fleet” is alive and well on the Salish Sea, and as Brad points out the ORC handicapping system is apparently doing a good job. In the ORC class 1 results, the “Big Three” (Crossfire, Glory and Smoke) finished the series tied, with Crossfire winning on the tiebreaker of the last race. When the two ORC classes were combined for the overall scoring, Smoke came out on top by one point ahead of four boats tied at one point behind. New Haven won Class 2 and Jedi finished third and first overall in the races she sailed.

Bravo Zulu won the PHRF long course series handily. Denny Vaughan and crew seem to never miss a race, and it shows. Second and third were a pair of J/120s, Hinzite and With Grace. After her misfortune (grounding) in Swiftsure, Terremoto missed the last race but still won Class 3 on the strength of her wins in the first two races.

On the short course (also PHRF) it was all Kiwi Express, Reinhold Freywald’s Farr 1020. She won the first two short course races overall and finished with a strong 4th. More Jubilee and Different Drummer continued their winning ways in their respective classes.

I’m hoping to get some lowdown on the cruiser-racer class (Class 9). A total of 13 boats competed in at least one race, which represents a significant portion of the fleet. Watch for a special report on that class to follow soon.

Results here.

I’d love to update this post with some photos or additional tales. Just send them in! Thanks to Brad Baker and Rick Donohue for the report and track!


Kurt grew up racing and cruising in the Midwest, and has raced Lasers since the late 1970s. He has been Assistant Editor at Sailing Magazine and a short stint as Editor of Northwest Yachting. Through Meadow Point Publishing he handles various marketing duties for smaller local companies. He currently is partners on a C&C 36 which he cruises throughout the Northwest. He's married to the amazing Abby and is father to Ian and Gabe.

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