One of the greatest stories of this Transatlantic Race 2015 is the participation of Dorade, the 53’ yacht that a young Olin Stephens, of S&S design house fame, campaigned in this same race 84 years ago. Today the restored boat is being raced by Matt Brooks who won the 2013 Transpac with her to repeat Dorade’s 1936 victory in that race. He hoped to repeat the boat’s 1931 Transatlantic Race victory this year.
South Africans, Mike Giles, Shaun Pammenter and Dave Shilton were part of this crew.
Dorade did not manage to repeat her success, as conditions favoured newer, more powerful boats. South African America’s Cup sailor Mike Giles, who has been brought on as sailing master, described sailing this piece of ocean racing history: “Anything you know about modern boats and how they should be sailed, you have to erase out of your mind – this is a different animal altogether. Reaching or upwind – don’t even try. If you are going downwind she rocks a lot and you have to be mindful of safety, because everything is done at the mast and for the past five days there’s been no moon…”
The boat has less stability so you have to reef early, although over the course of the race, with time to be recovered towards the end, this was redefined. “When we started sailing, we said we’d reef at 23 knots and it would be kite down at 26,” Giles continued. “The last 48 hours coming in [in more wind than this], we had full main, A4 [spinnaker], full mizzen, mizzen, kite, staysail, no moon, while absolutely sending it, rocking from pole tip in the water to boom tip. We did 30-odd sail changes in that last period.”
Despite this last giant effort Dorade was unable to beat the biggest boat in the fleet, Mariette of 1915, to victory in the Classic division and IRC Class 4, but finished a respectable second in both. Most importantly Dorade finished in just under 14 days 23 hours to take more than a day off Olin Stephens’ 1931 time.