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Posted by on Jul 21, 2013 in Antique and Classic, Boats We Love, Sailboat Racing, Sailing, US, Video |

Dorade Unleashed on Transpac Run

The 83-year-old ocean thoroughbred was a winner before she started this year's Transpac. Then she sailed to Hawaii in 12 days.

I’ve got to hand it to Matt Brooks for his determination, his persistence, and his fundamental belief in Dorade and the easily driven hull shape given to her by young designer, Olin Stephens, in 1929. Matt bought Dorade in 2010 and restored her to better than original condition, strong enough to sail in the ocean again. He became fixated on the idea of racing Dorade  in all of the ocean races she did (and won) in the ’30s – Bermuda, TransPac, and Transatlantic. Some people laughed, others rolled their eyes.

2013 Dorade Transpace Crew

Pre-start photo of 2013 Dorade Transpac crew: Skipper Matt Brooks (right) with Matt Wachowicz, Ben Galloway, Hannah Jenner, Kevin Miller, Eric Chowanski, John Hays. Photo by Pam Rorke Levy

Dorade crew 2013

And at dock after finishing!

But Matt didn’t pay attention to the naysayers, and at 3:23pm local time yesterday,  the 15th owner of the legendary ocean racer sailed her across the finish line at Diamond Head, Honolulu, in 7th place, boat for boat, and possibly winning her division and the race overall on corrected time. (July 22 update: Dorade was declared Division 8 and Overall Fleet winner when the boats remaining on the course ran out of time to match her corrected time finish: “Podium Finishers Determined in 2013 Transpac“.) Check out the Transpac Facebook page for a 30-second clip of Dorade sailing under spinnaker and mizzen spinnaker, five miles from the finish.

Dorade finishes 2013 Transpac

Dorade crosses the finish at Diamond Head. Pam Rorke Levy photo

Following the boats course from LA to Hawaii on the Transpac Race Tracker, it would seem that the Dorade crew plotted a nearly ideal course en route to their remarkable finish. But I’m sure it wasn’t a cakewalk.

Ten feet, three inches wide on deck and 52 feet long, Dorade slides along easily when the waves don’t get in her way. But handling her with an eight-foot tiller and keeping her on track is a challenge, as I learned when I was lucky enough to join the crew in last year’s Bermuda Race. We sailed her on a reach and downwind for 3 days, 11 hours and had an excellent workout! It’s hard to imagine keeping that up for nearly two weeks.

Hannah Jenner and Dorade’s captain, Ben Galloway, shot several good videos during the race and transmitted them for the rest of us to enjoy. I recommend the Day 9 video as a particularly strong one with footage shot by Ben at the masthead.

Last year, when we landed in Bermuda, I followed the example of her winning, 1931 Transatlantic Race crew and wrote a song called Dorade’s Bermuda Song. I offer a few lines of it this morning as affectionate praise for Dorade and the outstanding achievement of her TransPac crew:

Her narrow hull splits every swell,

Her bow swings left then right.

Her tiller stretches arms like hell,

Building muscles through the night.

To watch all of the Transpac videos from the boat, visit the Dorade Facebook page. Later, I’m sure they’ll all be collected on the Dorade website.

For a look back at 2012, see “Dorade Log 7: Newport to Bermuda Ocean Race Video Takes You Onboard“.