When Matt Brooks and his wife Pam Rorke Levy bought Dorade in 2010, they spent more than a year refitting the historic S&S 52-foot wooden yawl for ocean racing, with the goal of repeating the many races she won in the 1930s.
When Dorade finished the 2225-mile Transpac Race at Honolulu’s Diamond Head on Friday, July 20th at 3:23:18 Hawaii time, her elapsed time of 12 days 5 hours 23 min 18 sec made her the overall fleet winner. Over the course, she turned in an average speed of 7.8 knots, 8.1% faster than her performance in 1936, and also hit a lifetime record speed of 15.9 knots.
This was the second time Dorade had won the race; the first was in 1936. In the 1930’s Dorade amassed a racing record unmatched for her time, with victories in the Newport-Bermuda, Fastnet, and Transatlantic races, and it is unprecedented for a classic yacht of this era to also score so well in a mixed fleet of modern yachts.
But news reports of her victory spurned the question of her age. “1929 is the date as I understand it from both the boat’s documentation and from S&S,” noted Brooks. This prompted Douglas D. Adkins, who authored ‘Dorade, The History of an Ocean Racing Yacht’, to offer another version. “She was built in 1930, not 1929. She was launched at Minniford’s on City Island in May of 1930, just in time to prepare for the Bermuda Race of that year.”
Perhaps the build was started in 1929 at Minneford’s, and finished and launched in 1930?
Yachting historian John Rousmaniere clarifies the history. “Because a boat is conceived on the designer’s drafting table (today the computer), Matt Brooks has a point when he says that Dorade was created in 1929. But Doug Adkins is correct about her launching. Olin Stephens wrote the following in his book, Lines, about Dorade: “Designed late in 1929, she was ordered by my father Roderick Stephens Sr. and launched from the Minneford Yacht Yard in May of 1930.”
“In that spirit, we should correct the enthusiastic claim that’s been circulating to the effect that Dorade won the Bermuda Race. She did finish second in her class and third overall in 1930, but no matter how well she did then (and now), Dorade never had an overall victory in the ‘Thrash to the Onion Patch’.”
So what lies ahead for Dorade? “We plan on next year, 2014, spending the winter in the Caribbean and entering the Caribbean 600 and them in the spring the Newport – Bermuda Race,” explained Brooks. “In 2015, we plan to enter the Transatlantic Race and the Fastnet Race.”
Original article published on sailingscuttlebutt.com on July 25, 2013 found here.
Photo by Sharon Green / Ultimate Sailing