Reclaiming Victory

Fun Fact: Dorade made famous its eponymous dorade boxes, designed to enable air to pass in and out of a boat's cabin while keeping the water out.

There is nothing quite like cruising San Francisco on a bright fall day aboard a classic yacht. But when that boat is a significant player in the history of ocean racing, well then, that’s a brilliant day.

One of the most prolific champions of the 1930s ocean racing. the yacht Dorade now resides in Sausalito as her owners Matt Brooks and Pam Rorke Levy prepare for her next victory tour.

From first look, you can see that Dorade is a grand lady. Gleaming teak and fixtures from stem to stern, she looks like a beautiful reproduction of the 1929 classic, but in reality, she is the original.

Designed by legendary yacht designer Olin Stephens, Dorade got her first taste of victory in 1931 when she got line honors in the TransAtlantic race. What followed was a slew of victories in some of the world’s most prestigious and difficult ocean races, including the Fastnet, Cowes Round The Island Race and the Bermuda Race. And then in 1936, then owned by San Francisco’s own Jim Flood, Dorade won the legendary TransPacific race to Honolulu, proudly wearing the colors of St. Francis Yacht Club.

Fast-forward to 2010 when the husband and wife team were in search on the East Coast of a classic yacht to purchase. Amidst the yard of available boats, many abandoned by owners impacted by the 2008 economic downturn, was the painstakingly-refurbished Dorade.

Though Dorade was able-bodied enough to cruise into her golden years, Brooks and Levy believed that Dorade should have the opportunity to reclaim her birth rite as a celebrated ocean racer. What ensued was several months of making her not just sea-worthy, but race-worthy.

The result? A win in the Classic Yacht Division at the 7th Annual Leukemia Cup, hosted by Tiburon’s San Francisco Yacht Club. Besting other classic yachts, including Santana helmed by famed America’s Cup winner Ted Turner, Dorade once again sailed to glory on Bay Area waters. This win was secured by an all-female crew, featuring some of top female sailors in the United States, including Marin County sailors Liz Baylis, Paige Brooks, Melissa Purdy Feagin, Pam Healy, and Genny Tulloch, along with Levy.

Photo Credit: David Dibble. Dorade under sail during the 2012 Leukemia Cup on San Francisco Bay.

So what’s next on her dance card?

“Our goal is to repeat all of her early ocean races, including Newport-Bermuda which we completed this past this June, the TransPac and Newport-Bermuda next year, and in 2015 the TransAtlantic, Fastnet, and Cowes,” said Levy.

Will we see a rematch between Dorade and Santana come next summer? Brooks hope to take on Turner once again during the America’s Cup events to be held next summer.

While it's often tempting to go easy on a classic yacht, the (Leukemia Cup) crew put the boat through her paces, and showed that even at 83 she can still be an impressive competitor,” said Brooks. “It could not have been a better kickoff to our West Coast campaign.”

While not available for charter as she has a serious training schedule ahead of her, the public can view Dorade from her berth in Schoonmaker Marina in Sausalito or out on the Bay, where she currently making a weekly appearance.

Photo Credit: Rosenfeld 1931; Martin 2012