Friday was one of the best days of sailing I’ve had in a long time.
The Race— Newport RI for the New York Yacht Club Round the Island Race, the prelude to the 158th Annual Regatta. 19 miles around Jamestown and Conanicut Island. 2nd in class by 14 seconds behind Rives Potts’ Carina and 14th in the IRC fleet.
The boat— Dorade, the 53 foot S&S yawl built in 1929 and painstakingly rejuvinated by Matt Brooks of San Francisco.
The afterguard— Brad Read, Greg Stewart and John Burnham— all veterans sailors and guys I’ve known for years, but never sailed with before. Read and Burnham knew the bays currents to perfection. Stewart is the naval architect who led the renovation program. Read and Stewart shared the tiller and main trim and Burnam was the navigator/tactition. Burnham and Pam Levy worked the mizzen on the yawl. It was tight quarters in a rather narrow boat when you add in the jib trimmers.
The owner— Matt Brooks worked right next to me in the mast area. He was on top of everything happening in the boat.
We started near the bridge from Jamestown over to Newport heading on Course J clockwise around the island. It was a beat to the southern tip of the island and we held our own in the 12 kts freshning breeze. On one tack we were accused of match racing by the guys on Old school, a Beneteau 395.
Rounding Beavertail we hoisted the A2, a centerline A-sail that will be a big part of Dorade’s inventory on the Newport Bermuda Race that starts next Friday. The breeze built to 17 kts true as we gybed up the course seeking the best VMG and the most positive current. We passed a lot of boats in this 8-mile leg.
We made a jib change to a Heavy 1 on the hoist… the jibs are heavy and have hanks so you don’t want to go bareheaded on a beat. Then across the northern tip of the island we had a short fetch and then hardend up around R”2” into another long beat where we headed out into the channel across to the Newport side of the East Passage to get the best tidal current and flatest water.
Just before the Newport Bridge, I was invited to take the helm.
WOW! What a treat. On the starboard tack I was on we had to leave the the Gong buoy “12” off of Rose Island to our port side. Going under the bridge it looked like we were going to have to take a tack later to clear the buoy, but it was still a mile away. I kept Dorade on the 7kt target and worked her to weather in the puffs… the helm with the attached rudder is stiff and not as responsive as a boat with a spade rudder and a fin.
And then we also got a nice lift and caught a ride on the elevator as Brad Read called it. We were able to take the old girl past the buoy with a little room to spare. From there it was a nice reach to the pin end of the line.
Thanks to Matt and Pam and all the guys and the lovely Dorade for a memorable day on Narragansett Bay.
– Submitted by Talbot Wilson