Having read some of the crew profiles, with championship wins galore, on dorade.org, I was a touch apprehensive joining Dorade mid regatta – especially as they’d already scored firsts in each race. Skipper, Jamie Hilton, soon put any concerns aside as he introduced me during the pre-race briefing in the cockpit: “Nick is aboard today and he’s brought us all gifts from Monaco (casino chips maybe?!) – and he’ll be signing media confidentiality clauses before we depart!”
Continuous sharing of information and ideas was the order of the day, in a quietly professional manner, while sails were set, trimmed, reefed, dropped, bagged, set again, reefs let out and put in again. Steve Foraste (bow), Buddy Rego (mainsheet), John Burnham (joint helm), Jess Sweeney (meteorologist, fresh from consulting for Volvo Race Camper campaign) – to name those on the Newport-Bermuda crew aboard in St Barth – ably assisted owner Matt, at main mast, and wife Pam, on mizzen (both very much hands-on) and Jamie achieve Dorade team success.
“Insanity!” Matt Brooks replied when I asked why he went for a classic rather than a modern sailing yacht.The post-race debrief – including an explanation of the weather by Jess who was also using the regatta as an opportunity to calibrate equipment – again emphasized communication as the key. Even items such as getting snacks and water to crew on deck efficiently were brainstormed. A team dinner at the villa in St Barth, with partners and family, continued the ongoing bonding. It probably sums up what Les Voiles de St Barth is all about too – competitive Corinthian sailing and fun for all the family ashore too.
Winner of the LVDSB Classic Class, Dorade is tuning up nicely. Before departing St Barth, Spinlock deck vests were brought on deck for the Newport-Bermuda crew to check the fit and choose harness types. By the time Dorade sets off for ocean racing again (unlike anything she’s done in the last half century) on 15 June, both she and her crew will be in good shape to take on the elements.
With Dorade gaining admiration wherever she sails (I witnessed two of the world’s largest superyachts’ crew come out on deck, with binoculars and cameras, as we tacked between them off Gustavia) and her crew enjoying mental and physical teamwork, the purchase and restoration of Dorade to go offshore sailing seems anything but insane.
Should the St Barth Dorade crew make it to Monaco Classic Week after the Transatlantic Race 2015, I shall ensure chips await them on the table – either in the restored Casino or the new Yacht Club de Monaco.
photo by Christophe Jouany