It was July 11th 1936 at noon when Dorade .rst crossed the start line of the Transpac Race. Setting sail from Santa Monica, owner James Flood and his crew were about tomake history sailing the then 2210 nautical mile course in an incredible 13 days 7 hours 20minutes and 4 seconds. Not only did they win their class and took line honors but set acourse record that stood for many years. It was not just the Transpac Race that showcased the winning potential of this radical Olin Stephens design, indeed no otheryacht has taken as many .rst place trophies in as many ocean races in the entire history ofocean racing.
Described affectionately as an overgrown six meter, Dorade’s design was a break awayfrom the traditional American schooner rig, wide beamed sailing vessel. Considered something of a freak with her 10 foot beam and yawl rig, Olin Stephens had drawn thelines of a winning machine. Starting life on the east coast of the US, Dorade’s .rst majorocean racing test was the Trans Atlantic Race of 1931. Any doubters of the slender yawlwere resoundingly silenced as Dorade stormed across the Atlantic Ocean stealing victory from the much larger and theoretically faster yachts that raced as her competition.
In 1935 Dorade was moved to the west coast where she completed a total of threeTranspac races – 1936, 1939 and 1953 before she was purchased by an Italian owner and moved to the Mediterranean. It was in 2010 however when Matt Brooks and Pam Levywere looking for a classic yacht that they discovered Dorade and formed an ambitiousplan . They decided to restore her to her former glory and embark on a race circuit thatwould include all the major ocean races in which Dorade had cut her teeth in her hay day. Their plan began with the Newport to Bermuda race 2012 with the next major event beingthe Transpac 2013.
Whilst Dorade has been lovingly restored and sports immaculate varnish work and theoriginal white dorade vents (when on show in port), behind the scenes she is nowequipped with all the latest modern technology. The crew have at their disposal B&Ginstruments in the cockpit with 20/20 displays at the mast, navigation software running ontough book computers, a Sailor 250 .eet broadband system and a new engine to meet therequirements of the various race committees all powered by lithium ion batteries.
Owner Matt Brooks had originally planned to sail with a corinthian team but recognizingthe need for consistency and with a desire for the 84 year old Dorade to be competitive,Brooks has carefully selected a fully professional team able to work with a true corinthianspirit. Bringing experiences from Volvo races, America’s Cup sailing, the TP 52 circuit and short handed Class 40 racing, the team may not seem like a typical classic yacht race crew. As navigator Matt Wachowicz explains “No one ever gets a chance to do something like this. To be a part of the next chapter of the history of a classic yacht. It’s not often that you get to come into contact with a vessel that de.ned your sport”.
Over the past year since Brooks and his original team completed the Newport – Bermudarace battling technical problems that left them without electronics and weather data, boatcaptain Ben Galloway has tirelessly gone through the on board systems to ensure theTranspac Race is not blighted in the same way. “I have got high expectations for the boat”he says, “sometimes I do feel a bit guilty pushing her so hard in her old age but she wasborn to race. We have put a great deal of time and effort into restoring her and ensuring that all modern systems are .tted sympathetically. We have even painted the new carbon spinnaker poles with a wood effect so that they blend in”. Whilst the spinnaker poles arenow made of modern composite materials, the rigs however remain wooden. Constructed from Sitka Spruce a light wood boasting a high strength to weight ratio, both rigs havebeen replaced since Brooks took ownership of Dorade. A new rudder has also been .tted and all new bronze Meisner winches adorn the deck.
A great deal of work too has gone into the development of the sail plan. Gone are the dacron sails and symmetrical spinnakers that Brooks .rst raced with and in their place awardrobe of twenty sails all new for the 2013 Transpac Race including double taffeta 3DLmainsail and jibs and a total of eight different asymmetric kites, six for the main mast and two for the mizzen. As crew member John Hayes explains “initially we thought the boatwould bene.t from big symmetrical kites but actually with the new asymmetric sails we canlower the centre of effort and signi.cantly reduce the pitching and rolling motion of the boat”.
The major test for the crew and the best gauge of how well their Transpac preparations were coming along was the Cabo Race in March 2013. Although Brooks was unable to beaboard for this event, the team racing together for the .rst time, guided Dorade along the800 mile course to a victory in her class and a tied .rst place overall. Not a bad result for the oldest boat in the .eet and proof that Olin Stephens’ design was still something trulyspecial.
The 47th edition of the Transpac Race will be a very different experience for the crew aboard who have sailed in previous Transpac races. For navigator Matt Wachowicz guiding a slower boat is actually more of a challenge. “You have to be right more often as you don’t have the speed to chase a system, meaning you can’t recon.gure your gameplan”. In terms of competition once again Dorade .nds herself as the oldest boat in the.eet and assuming the crew make it safely to Hawaii, she will be the oldest boat to eversail the Transpac Race. “The biggest competition is for us to get to Hawaii and to live upto the reputation and respect the tradition of a yacht with such great racing pedigree” saysWachowicz, “many people don’t think that it is possible for us to achieve this”. The crew naturally have their sights on a class win but to really make the Transpac 2013 a historical event for the Dorade team, they are aiming to beat the 1936 elapsed time of 13 days 7hours 20 minutes and 4 seconds and have their sights on beating Dorade’s existing besttwenty four hour run of 224 nautical miles.
Whilst the Transpac Race is the major race event of 2013 and has been the focus for the crew over the past year, boat captain Ben Galloway will be sailing Dorade back to San Francisco after the Transpac where she will be sailing in the bay spectating the America’s Cup sailing. By the end of 2013 Dorade will be back in the Caribbean ready for anotheryear of glorious racing starting with the RORC 600 2014.
Hannah Jenner Crew Dorade Transpac 2013
Original Article by Hennah Jenner found on St. Francis Yacht Club’s Mainsheet August 2013 Edition – www.stfyc.com