Bill Tripp’s first big win

For every notable yacht designer, there is that one boat which launches their career. For Bill Tripp Jr, whose life was cut short in 1971 at age 51 due to an automobile accident with a drunk driver, that boat was an innovative yawl which Donald Street recalls in this report:


In 1956 I sailed the Vineyard race on Katingo, a very nice centreboard yawl of about 50-feet that Bill had designed for Captain Vatis, a Greek ship owner.

At that point, Bill was no longer working for S&S but was trying make it as an independent designer, though his income was still largely from Red Hand paint that he represented in some fashion.

I can’t remember the entire crew but there was Captain Vatis as owner and skipper, Bill as navigator along with Arthur Knapp, Rod Oakes (an old friend who in our teen age years was a star boarder at our house in Port Washington on Manhasset Bay), myself, and a couple of others.

The race started in fog, and for navigation we relied on Dead Reckoning, using a Kenyon speed gauge that was not too accurate and didn’t record total miles. We had basic Direction Finding, but our distance sailed was a guesstimate, and while there was a sextant on board, with the fog there was no sun to use.

After leaving Long Island Sound, passing south of Fishers Island and Watch Hill, on an inshore leg as we tacked I saw Weekapaug Inn. I went below and asked Bill where his DR put us, and he showed us on the chart as being ten miles out which was not surprising considering fog and the navigation equipment available in those days.

Having spotted the Inn through the fog, I pointed out where we were along the Rhode Island shoreline, certain of our location as the Street family had spent summers on that beach since 1936 (and parts of the Street family still do).

This gave Bill a good point of departure to work out our approach to Vineyard Sound Lightship which we found by homing in on the DF and picking up the fog horn. We rounded the lightship, and headed back to Plum Gut south of Block Island, on a fast shy spinnaker reach. – Read on

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