From the Experts (and former Triangle owners themselves)
"After owning several cabin-type one-design sloops and sailing many others, I've found the Triangle the sweetest--the sweetest to sail as well as the sweetest to look at. Most notable is how well she balances on all points of sail and in a variety of wind strengths; you never have to brace your feet and pull the tiller up under your chin to keep her on course. As for looks I find the subtle reversing curves at the bow and transom, and that lovely sheer, to be completely compelling."
- Maynard Bray -
WoodenBoat Technical Editor, Founder OffCenterHarbor.com
"...Colossal mainsails drive their slippery and well-ballasted hulls, and tiny jibs balance these mains. Even in a strong breeze, the helm of a Triangle is nearly neutral, requiring just a finger or two on the tiller. High-aspect mainsails and turn-on-a-dime underbodies are in vogue today, for pointing ability and maneuverability, respectively. But the Triangle proves the merits of a big main and a relatively long keel: the boats reach like freight trains and track like they're on rails. And they are, in fact, quite weatherly.
A Triangle will move in the lightest of zephyrs, and are thus ideal pocket cruisers. When I owned one of these boats in the 1990s, I sailed it among Penobscot Bay's many islands for several seasons, without an engine, and without wishing for one.
While meant for fleet racing at Marblehead, Triangles were also meant to race with the Bermuda One Designs and Sound Interclubs-a mixed fleet of one designs sailing without handicap. The three designs were that close in concept. There are numerous reports of Sound Interclubs having been shipped out to Bermuda for such racing against Bermuda One Designs, but the Triangles never seem to have joined these contests. After a long period of dormancy, the Sound Interclubs have returned, thanks to the visionary efforts of an owner who purchased no fewer than three of them, and restored two for match racing. There's an opportunity here for a historic contest: imagine a fleet of Triangles going head to head, finally, with a fleet of Sound Interclubs. The spectacle alone would be worth it, and the sailing would be unrivaled."
- Matthew P. Murphy - WoodenBoat Editor, Author
The Alden Triangle is a quintessential knockabout sloop. Drawn by John Alden, it was a one design for the yacht clubs of the world capital of yachting (Marblehead) in the golden age of the sport. Designed early in the Marconi era, it is fractional rigged with a big powerful mainsail (originally rigged with running backs, often converted to standing backstay later) and a small working jib. These boats are low and long ended, the cockpit is deep and comfortable. They are beamy for the type with a crisp turn of the bilge, so they're not tender, and there's a rather sizable chunk of lead beneath you to stand up to that big 'ol main. Oak backbone and frames, mahogany planking coamings, trim and cabin sides. Hollow spruce mast, canvas over pine decks. They were orignially built at Graves Yacht Yard, among the best of the era.
Sailing a Triangle is spectacular. Smooth and formidable, yet responsive and agile. Powerful enough to be exciting, manageable enough for a 15 year old kid to handle with just the right amount of struggle. She is big enough to qualify for all the classic yacht races in New England, and simple enough to get underway in five minutes. Fully rigged and properly trimmed, her helm is perfectly balanced.
Courtesy of The Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection
A Personal Connection
I'm not sure whether or not it is unique that I can trace one of my greatest passions, and what I expect to be my life's work (I'm only 35 but I don't expect to be changing course) to a single day, and in fact a single boat. The day was August 3, 1996, the annual 'Round the Island Race' on Macmahan Island, Georgetown Maine. The boat was a 1927 Alden Triangle, named KARA SU.
That was the first and only race I've ever won. KARA SU was the first wooden boat I ever sailed. From my first moments aboard I was enlightened. Sailing her consumed my senses in a way that my family's fiberglass boats never had. Sound and texture, tension and balance, fair lines and pleasing curves. It was the same sport, but so much more! I couldn't get enough.
I never owned KARA SU, but I found ways to keep sailing her. I gave her owner sailing lessons, (He restored her in his 80s, a retired navy man, he had no idea how to sail) later I convinced him to let me repair and refinish her and get her back in the water after a couple of years on the hard. I took my first real solo cruises in her then. Night sailing, stormy deliveries, my first Eggemoggin Reach Regatta (thick fog, no fog horn, no gps). My future wife helped me paint her bottom (in a mini skirt, I was smitten!) even before we had a date. I sailed her into Benjamin River, my first time in Brooklin, my first glance of my future homeport...
Ten years ago I walked away from KARA SU. She was ready for major work then, and I wasn't prepared to take it on. She's been for sale ever since, and four months ago I acquired KARA SU and brought her to Brooklin. While the boat clearly holds a special place in my heart, the ultimate culmination of my history with her would be to give her the restoration she deserves for a new owner.
While there will be options to adhere more or less closely to the design and original construction techniques, in either case the restoration will be significant. Her shape needs to be restored so the deck will have to come off, ballast and deadwood removed and saved, complete reframing, partial replanking, centerline structure replaced....
The spars and their hardware are salvageable and may be original. She has carried the more recent fixed back stay rig since I have known her, but conversion back to the original larger sail plan with running back stays would be tempting. The coamings, cabin sides, slide hatch and cockpit seats may all be usable with refinishing.
She isn't quite a basket case, but if you're tempted by this boat and you need to hear an argument for why it's worth your time/ money/ energy to bring her back, please read my last newsletter
We'll make her like new again, keeping whatever original fabric we can, but without compromise. Returned to the ways, her new owner will celebrate her history and future with pride.
Please don't hesitate to get in touch. I'm happy to provide estimates for restoration and whatever details I can of the boat and it's history.
Ellery R. Brown