Where did the last five months go? It feels like just yesterday that we were in Newport with a hundred things to do before the Transatlantic Race. Working with Nick Bellico, Joe Loughborough and Terry Halpin in the yard was great fun, and we got the old girl in tip-top shape.
A few days of practice later, we were off on a huge 14-day adventure across the Atlantic, where we encountered whales, dropped off 50-foot high waves, broke old records and made new ones. To top it all off, we made some pretty good new mates along the way.
Next up, was the Royal Yacht Squadron Bicentennial Regatta with some great parties and lots of silverware at the prize giving. Despite the very light winds, it was a great event.
Dorade was built for the open ocean and after the Bicentennial, it was twitching to get offshore for the Rolex Fastnet Race. This was one of my favorite offshore races to date; a bit of everything was provided but without too much wind. Helming Dorade at the start was a highlight for me; we saw four hundred boats, light breeze and strong tides. There were a few close calls with some of the marks and boats, but after the start we held the lead on most of the fleet out to the Solent.
Throughout the race, Stormy Weather was constantly snapping at our tail and although she just got the better of us around Fastnet Rock, it was only by a few boat lengths. From there, the wind fell in our favor and we were able to beat her to the finish. For this eighty-five-year-old boat to finish seventh overall out of so many boats was incredible.
It’s a shame that the Rolex Middle Sea Race didn’t work out the way we were planning, but it came as no surprise to anyone onboard when we got the weather update. This race can be an all-or-nothing event and when it “goes off” in the Middle Sea it normally goes nuclear; especially when conditions have been calm for a while, you know something big is on the horizon. Once our weather guru warned us that up to 60-know gusts were forecasted to hit within 24 hours, it was no question that we had to retire from racing. For me, it was the second time I have retired from this race, so it was a bit hard.
It has been almost a week in Genoa since the delivery crew departed, and Dorade seems quiet now. It has been such a great summer with so much going on, that it just doesn’t seem right to be sitting in the harbor waiting for a ship. I much prefer it when the pressure is on to achieve a goal. Even though the current goal is to put her on a ship and get her back home to Newport, R.I. it still doesn’t seem like much of a challenge, in comparison to what we’ve accomplished this season.
When we get back to the U.S., Dorade will undergo some TLC throughout the winter. Next year is bound to bring some new adventures and stories, but for now we will have to wait and see what’s in store!
Thanks to Matt, Pam and the team for a fantastic season!
— Boat Captain, Ben Galloway