Wooden yawl re-creates 1930s ocean-race glory

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Defying critics who said it couldn’t be done, Dorade completed a four-year campaign to repeat all of the major ocean races she won in the 1930s, finishing on the podium at the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race, where she took second in IRC Class 4 and seventh overall among 356 boats.

A 52-foot wooden yawl built in 1930 by Olin and Rod Stephens, Dorade was the oldest boat to compete in this year’s Fastnet and it took home three of the event’s most prestigious trophies: the Sparkman & Stephens Trophy, the Iolaire Block and the Coates Schofield Trophy, according to the Dorade website.

Finishing the 615-mile race in four days, six hours, 13 minutes and 42 seconds, owners Matt Brooks and Pam Rorke Levy, of San Francisco, and their seven-man crew cut more than 24 hours off Rod and Olin Stephens’ original time when they won the Fastnet in 1931.

This year’s Fastnet Race was the final event in Brooks and Levy’s ambitious “Return to Blue Water” campaign, which began shortly after the couple purchased Dorade in 2010. The goal of the campaign was to restore the 80-year-old Dorade to ocean-racing condition and repeat all four of the major ocean races she won in the 1930s, matching or bettering her original time in each race.

In just four years the boat has sailed more than 18,000 miles on her own bottom, competing in offshore and coastal races throughout Europe, the Caribbean and North America.

 “We simply wanted to finish every race in good order and show that a classic boat designed decades ago to race in the ocean could once again be competitive,” Levy said. “We wanted to do Olin and Rod Stephens proud, showing that a boat they built when they were just getting started was not just a revolutionary new design, but a design with enduring value. The success of the campaign was beyond our wildest dreams.”

Take a look at this onboard video of Dorade’s winning 1931 Transatlantic Race performance; she completed the course in 17 days, one hour, 14 minutes.