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Oil Painting by  Anthony Blake

The 52-foot racing yacht Dorade careens in a very stiff following wind on her way to a record performance in the 1931 Transatlantic Race, with the spinnaker sheet led to windward of the forestay and eased out. This is “knife-edge sailing, where you need all your skills to prevent a standing jibe and subsequent broach,” says artist Tony Blake. “I put her in mid-ocean, showing the conditions they were sailing under, surfing with spinnaker up in good-size seas.”

A young, up-and-coming naval architect named Olin Stephens designed Dorade, which the Minneford Yacht Yard built on City Island, New York, and launched in 1930. In the race, Stephens was skipper of the seven-man crew that included his brother Rod and their father, Rod Stephens, Sr. The mahogany-on-oak yawl beat nine opponents by a full two days boat-for-boat, and almost four days on corrected time. The design firm Sparkman & Stephens was suddenly the talk of the yachting world.

Big ocean-racing yachts, and America’s Cup boats in particular, have inspired Blake as an artist since the New Zealander was a youngster. “I have always been passionate about yacht design, and I followed all the S&S yachts that raced from the late 1950s into the 1970s,” he says. “They were the top ocean-racer designers at that time.”

Blake’s own offshore sailing career keeps his art fresh and immediate. “I like to think my paintings portray, very accurately, what it is like to race a yacht in high winds and with a following sea,” says the artist, whose work is on display at Ocean House in Watch Hill, Rhode Island, through early February. “The crew are hanging on in the wild rush down the wave, spray is flying across the foredeck. Hopefully people looking at this work—especially those who have been there, done that— will appreciate the feeling portrayed in the painting. I have always loved the thrill of surfing down a wave in a yacht.”

This article originally appeared in the December 2018 issue.



Racing on Long Island Sound

For Andrew Walton, becoming an artist was in the cards. “The art chooses you, not the other way round,” says Walton, who is known for his detailed renderings of ships and boats and those who handle them.


Neck and Neck

They were known to the British as the “Big Class.” The America’s Cup boats of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were unruly — sometimes downright perilous — racing machines.

Photo of painting by William R Davis

Last Sail Of The Season

“It’s like a vessel that needs a couple of coats of paint for the true color to come out,” William Davis says. He’s describing the way he layered the oils to convey nature’s subtle shades in Last Sail of the Season. “You work in stages. The sky — it might take several coats to get it right.”


Brant Point Light

Nantucket Harbor, Massachusetts. We’re looking across the main channel toward Brant Point Light; the Coatue Wildlife Refuge is behind and to the right of this iconic island symbol, with Wauwinet in the distance.


Watch Hill Harbor from the Lawn

Anyone who’s driven down into the town of Watch Hill, Rhode Island, and along the stretch of harborfront knows the scene.


Charles W. Morgan Off Cape Horn

The wave in the foreground dominates the scene in Paul Garnett’s dramatic Charles W. Morgan Off Cape Horn.


A Race to Remember

In this work by British artist Tim Thompson, titled “Schooner Yacht America and the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert off the Needles 1851,” we witness the American-built schooner cleaning up in the annual Queen’s Cup regatta, the prestigious 53-mile race around the Isle of Wight.