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Legendary Sailing Yacht Dorade Takes to the Open Ocean for the 2013 TransPac Race

Legendary Sailing Yacht Dorade

Legendary Sailing Yacht Dorade Takes to the Open Ocean for the 2013 TransPac Race

Racing Yachts leave Long Beach on July 8, 2013, traveling 2,225 nautical miles to Honolulu

2 July 2013 (San Francisco, CA) — Dorade ( — The American classic racing yacht Dorade returns to ocean racing for the 2013 Trans Pacific Yacht Race, leaving Long Beach, California, on July 8 for the prestigious and demanding biennial open ocean race to Honolulu. Built 83 years ago as an ocean racing yacht with a revolutionary new design, Dorade helped put the Saint Francis Yacht Club on the map, winning the TransPacific race to Honolulu in 1936 with a course record that stood for many years. She will be the oldest boat ever to compete in this grueling ocean race.

In 2010, owners Matt Brooks and his wife Pam Rorke Levy went to Newport in search of a classic yacht, and were immediately entranced by Dorade’s history and pedigree. Rather than keep her as a museum piece, the couple decided to do something that many thought was impossible: restore her to full ocean-racing capacity.

“We needed to toughen up Dorade herself, but we also needed to develop a stable of crew members with the right skills, chemistry and experience to race a classic boat in trans-oceanic races,” said Brooks.

Dorade‘s 2013 TransPac crew is led by owner Matt Brooks as Skipper/Navigator; Tactical Navigator Matt Wachowicz, whose professional racing career includes three America’s Cup campaigns; and Boat Captain Ben Galloway, who was skipper of the Liverpool 08 Clipper in the 35,000-mile Clipper 2007-08 Round-the-World Yacht Race. Team members include Hannah Jenner, who has completed twelve trans-Atlantic crossings, skippered in the Clipper Round-the-World Yacht Race, and was the highest-place female skipper to finish the 2011 Transat Jacques Vabres Race; Kevin Miller, whose racing experience includes overall victories in Transpac, Sydney to Hobart, Newport to Bermuda, and Cowes Week; Eric Chowanski, veteran of Transpac and Mexico racing, the Farr 40 circuit, management of Udo Gietl’s Andrews 56 Quantum, and nine years with Team Pendragon; John Hays brings many years of yacht racing experience, both in inshore and offshore races, and has completed and won many of the offshore ocean classics and won many National, International and World Championships along the way.

In preparation for the TransPac, Dorade has racked up a number of impressive showings at regattas and ocean races on both coasts and in the Caribbean. She won her class in the Antigua Classic, the St. Maarten Heineken Regatta, and Les Voiles De St. Barth, as well as taking both class and overall honors in the Antigua Concours D’Elegance. In October 2012, Dorade won the classic yacht division of the seventh annual Leukemia Cup Regatta in San Francisco Bay with an all-female, all-star crew led by JJ Fetter, a four-time Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year.

In the Newport-Cabo Race this spring, Dorade demonstrated that she is still a force to be reckoned with in the world of ocean racing, sailing more than 800 miles to win her class and tie for first overall. First held in 1906, the Trans-Pacific Yacht Race was envisioned by Hawaii’s last monarch, King David Kalakaua as a means to strengthen the islands’ economic and cultural ties to the mainland, and is now into its second century as one of the oldest ocean races in the world. For more than a century, sailors have competed in this biennial 2,225-nautical mile blue water contest, sailing from the shores of California to the foot of Diamond Head, Oahu. The competing fleets have ranged in size over the years from the largest fleet of 80 competing boats in 1979, to the smallest fleet of just two boats in 1932. The challenging racecourse across the open ocean takes competitors through a range of conditions, from the cold, wet northeastern Pacific, to the blustery trade winds of the Molokai Channel near the finish.

Dorade was designed by the legendary Olin Stephens II, creator of six out of seven successful America’s Cup defenders between 1958 and 1980. Olin and his brother Rod Stephens designed and built Dorade in 1929, commissioned by their father Roderick Stephens, Sr. as a family yacht. Yawl-rigged with a narrow beam, Dorade was originally regarded as something of an anomaly, at a time when most successful racing yachts had wide beams and schooner rigs. She silenced her critics with a string of victories beginning in 1930 that has never been equaled in deepwater yacht racing.

In 1931, at the ages of 20 and 22, the Stephens brothers sailed Dorade in the TransAtlantic Race, winning against a fleet of much larger boats and more experienced crews. That win was followed by an extraordinary series of victories in the Fastnet, Cowles, and Bermuda races. In 1931 upon her return to New York after winning the TransAtlantic and the Fastnet Races, her crew was given a ticker-tape parade on Broadway from Battery Park to City Hall.

In 1936 San Francisco’s Jim Flood purchased Dorade and brought her to San Francisco. Since then, she changed owners many times, and after an active life on the West Coast, she was bought by Italian Giuseppe Gazzoni and was extensively restored in 1997 at Cantierre Navale Dell’Argentario in Italy.

Dorade’s stellar history of major ocean racing results included:
• The Bermuda Race, 1930—Second in Class B, third overall, winner of All-Amateur Trophy; 1932—First in Class B, eighth overall; 1934—Fourth in Class A, fourth overall.
• The Transatlantic Race, 1931—First to finish, first overall

• The Fastnet Race, 1931, 1933—First overall
• Oslo – Hanko, 1933—First place
• The Honolulu Race, 1936—First to finish, first in Class B, first overall; 1939—Fourth in Class B, ninth overall; 1953—Seventh in Class B, eighteenth overall
• The Swiftsure Race, 1947-52, 1954-57, 1961, 1963-64, 1979. First in Class AA, 1947, 1948, 1951, 1952, 1954, 1964.

“My idea,” says Brooks, “is to enter Dorade in all the races where she was victorious during her early years including, but not limited to, the race across the Atlantic. To accomplish this, we need to toughen-up Dorade, readying her for the kind of long-range sailing she hasn’t seen in decades, keeping in mind that while she may be game, she is also an eighty year old lady. For this kind of demanding racing, we must assemble and train a crew with the right skills, chemistry and experience to race Dorade and win trans-oceanic races.”

“Our goal is to repeat all of her early ocean races, including Newport-Bermuda which we completed last year, the TransPac and Newport-Bermuda in 2013, and in 2015 the TransAtlantic, Fastnet, and Cowes,” said Dorade owner Pam Rorke Levy. “In her early years, Dorade won all of these ocean races, a record that stands unbeaten today.”

Owner and Skipper Matt Brooks, a native of San Leandro, California, learned to sail in Monterey Bay as a boy, and went on to race on San Francisco Bay on his first yacht Quarter Pounder, sailing under the St. Francis flag. Brooks is also a well-known mountain guide, and over the past forty years has racked up first ascents in the Sierra and the French Alps, established a mountaineering equipment company, and has been honored with a Presidential Gold Medal and a lifetime achievement award from the American Mountain Guides Association. Since soloing as a pilot at age 13, Brooks has also set many world records in the air, including the record time for circumnavigating the globe (westward) and flying westward across the US, all in a specially equipped Citation business jet. Pam Rorke Levy is an Emmy-winning filmmaker and creative director, well known to Bay Area audiences and the arts community for creating and producing such shows as KQED’s arts program Spark.