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San Francisco’s Dorade Wins Trans Pacific Sailing Race

Legendary Sailing Yacht Dorade

San Francisco’s Dorade Wins Trans Pacific Sailing Race

Historic Yacht First Won in 1936 – Now Oldest Craft Ever to Race and Win TransPac

22 July 2013 — San Francisco, CA: “They said we’d never make it and if we did it would take four weeks,” said Dorade skipper and co-owner Matt Brooks. “Skeptics said it was like taking a fine piece of antique furniture and dropping it in the ocean, and she shouldn’t be sailed hard in blue waters.”

Dorade (, a narrow-beamed wooden boat built in 1929, proved those skeptics wrong this week, winning the 2013 TransPac Race from Long Beach to Honolulu on corrected time of 132 hours, 20 minutes, and 55 seconds, beating her closest competitor, Roy Disney’s Pyewacket, by just over two and a half hours. She also took top honors in her class.

The victory comes 77 years after the first time Dorade won the TransPac race in 1936, when she was owned by San Francisco’s James Flood. Dorade’s victory in 1936 helped put the fledgling St. Francis Yacht Club on the map in 1936, and she did the club proud once again in 2013 by flying under the St. Francis colors.

“We thought if we could match Dorade’s 1936 record of thirteen days that would be absolutely fantastic,” said Brooks. “We actually beat that record by more than a day. To do what we’ve done exceeded all our expectations.”

Dorade set a steady pace from Long Beach to Honolulu in conditions that were ideal for the first wave of starters in the 22 on July 8, turning in an average speed of 7.8 knots, 8.1% faster than her performance in 1936. She also hit a lifetime record speed of 15.9 knots.

Brooks and his wife Pam Rorke Levy bought Dorade in 2010 and spent more than a year refitting it for ocean racing, with the goal of repeating the many races the boat won in the 1930s, a record of wins that stands unbeaten today. They entered the 83-year-old Dorade in the TransPac against the advice of many in the sailing community, who view the boat as an irreplaceable piece of maritime history. Sea trials and constant refinement of the boat’s systems have been ongoing over the past three years.

“Really there were eight of us on this — seven crew members and the eighth was Dorade — and she didn’t disappoint us,” said Brooks. “She performed flawlessly and did everything we asked her to do.”

“This is such a great story,” said Jim Flood, whose father owned Dorade during the 1930s. “The old boats and old people still have hope.”

“Your entire St. Francis Yacht family is cheering your fantastic, historic TransPac victory: job well done,” said James M. Cascino, Commodore, St. Francis Yacht Club. “We can’t wait to hear all the details of this amazing journey, won 77 years after your proud girl’s last TransPac celebration. Know how very proud we are of your achievement.”

“What really great and exciting news to have the Dorade win the TransPac Race again,” said Judy Flood Wilbur. “My father would have been really thrilled as his win in 1936 was one of the highlights of his life! He truly loved the Dorade.”

Interviewees for Press:

Dorade owner / Captain Matt Brooks: (510) 579-1937 /
Pam Rorke Levy / (415) 265-1432 /

About Dorade’s 2013 TransPac Crew:

Dorade‘s 2013 TransPac crew has been 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.

History of the Trans-Pacific Yacht Race:

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.

History of Dorade

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.