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Posted by on Apr 17, 2014 in Carousel Feature, Throwback Thursdays, US |

Throwback Thursday: Dorade

This revolutionary design put Olin Stephens' name on the naval architecture map back in 1931. 83 years later, I'm honored to be part of her crew.

Growing up, I learned a few boat names before I even learned to ride a bike. One of those was Dorade, though I was probably a jaded teenager before I actually set eyes on her. And today, in a weird twist of Throwback meets Thursday, I get to go sailing aboard this legend.

Dorade reaching

Dorade sailed from Newport to Bermuda in 2012, a 21st century attempt to repeat her 1932 victory.

I’ve come to the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta to join an all-women’s team led by JJ Fetter and Pam Rorke Levy, and racing starts tomorrow. Today is our final practice day, the next step in forming eleven women from a variety of sailing backgrounds (dinghies, small keelboats, big boats) into a team. Most of us have more years of sailing behind us than we care to admit, and tomorrow we get to apply all that knowledge to getting Dorade around a tropical race course.

But it’s Throwback Thursday, and we should be talking about the oldest girl of all—the one who brought us together.

Dorade’s skinny six-meter-inspired lines has had such an influence on yacht design that it’s hard to imagine anyone describing her as a “freak,” but in 1930 she was a complete departure from the beamy schooners that dominated the racing scene. After winning the 1931 Fastnet Race and receiving a ticker-tape parade through New York City, her critics were silenced. She then moved to the West Coast for several more victories, including the 1936 Transpac Race.

As the century wore on she was raced, cruised, and even owned by a liveaboard for twenty years, before joining the family of Matt Brooks and Pam Rorke Levy.

In addition to winning races, Dorade is remembered for naming the type of deck ventilator (the Dorade vent) we all now take for granted on boats of all sizes, which allows air but not water into cabins via a baffle inside the vent.

You can go for a virtual sail on Dorade by watching videos from John Burnham’s adventures on her in 2012, preparing for the Bermuda Race. We’ve collected them together in one playlist, Dorade: Racing a Classic Yawl. And keep an eye out here too, since I plan to post a few updates. (Read Sunday Sailing: Classic Yacht Racing on Dorade)

Meanwhile, thanks to Matt Brooks and Pam Rorke Levy for having the vision to return Dorade to blue water, which has allowed me to fulfill a lifelong dream of racing on her.

Read more about Dorade:

John Burnham’s logs from the 2012 Bermuda Race: