Dorade kicked off its 2017 season this past weekend with the Newport to Ensenada Race, which took the 52-foot Sparkman & Stephens classic yawl on a 125 nautical mile offshore race from Newport Beach, California to Ensenada, Mexico. The team finished second in its class with an elapsed time of 25 hours, 31 minutes and 40 seconds (22 hours, seven minutes and 30 seconds on corrected time).
“It was the toughest Newport to Ensenada Race I’ve ever done and I’ve done quite a few of them,” said Dorade tactician Kevin Miller adding that normally the breeze stays under 18 knots and the sea state is relatively smooth, but this year’s conditions consisted of much rougher waters and breeze. “It was a challenging race, but exactly what we needed to test the boat for the Rolex Sydney Hobart, which we’ll be racing in later this year.”
Although the Newport to Ensenada Race started on Sunday, May 1, the team started their trek down to Newport Beach with Dorade last week so that they could test out their new sails and do some downwind training in heavy air. On Wednesday, the team logged 70 miles from Ventura, California to Avalon on Santa Catalina Island. On Thursday, the team experienced some light air conditions, which were ideal for testing out strategies and tactics with Dorade’s new light-air sails.
“The race started at 11:40 am Sunday morning,” added Miller. “We had very light air and rough sea state for the first two hours; we lost a few boats in these conditions, which aren’t ideal for Dorade, but by 4pm the breeze got up to 26 knots and we were able to recover our position. However, when the sun went down, so did the wind, and at 8pm the wind shut down completely, and we were stuck with 8 to 12 foot leftover waves, which were definitely not fun and very hard on the equipment. Luckily, we only broke one mainsail luff slide. By about 3am, we had a little bit of wind that filled in from off the land and we were able to work our way back toward the shore where we were greeted with a beautiful sunrise and about 20 knots of super warm wind. We had these conditions right up to the finish and were able to crawl our way back into second place overall in our class.”
From there, the team delivered the boat boat back to San Diego, where she will compete in the Yesteryear Classic Regatta on May 13. On June 1, the team will race in the SoCal 300, which starts in Santa Barbara and finishes in San Diego, before showcasing in the Newport Wooden Boat Festival on June 10. From there, the boat heads down to Australia for the “Dorade Down Under” campaign, which consists of racing in eight events off the southern coast of Australia, culminating with the 628-nautical mile Rolex Sydney Hobart Race in December.