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Dorade takes early podiums on the countdown to Hobart

With the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race an end game within sight, the “Dorade Down Under” campaign remains in full swing; the 86-year-old Sparkman & Stephens classic yacht proving yet again that age is just a number. Photo credit: Andrea Francolini at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week

It's been podium finishes for Dorade and her team in the first two events of her five-race series off the southern coast of Australia.

“Dorade is an amazing yacht to be in the hunt against some very competitive modern boats at a very technical venue,” said Tactician Kevin Miller about Dorade taking third place in the 370-mile Brisbane to Keppel Race and second place in IRC Passage Division 2 at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, both of which concluded last month.  “The boat and the team are performing well down here, even up against conditions that aren’t ideal for Dorade. She is an incredible yacht and always seems to surprise us.

“We’re just coming off of a very challenging week competing against a very talented fleet at Hamilton Island Race Week, and although we’re tired, we have a great feeling of accomplishment and look forward to our next challenge."

That next challenge will come in the form of the CYCA's Blue Water Series including Newcastle Bass Island in October and Bird Island in November, followed by the peak of the Southern Hemisphere's offshore racing calendar, the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in December. 

Looking ahead to December, Dorade's owners Pam Rorke Levy and Matt Brooks told us more about Dorade's involvement in the big race.

What’s the significance of a boat like Dorade racing in the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race?

Starting just weeks after being launched in 1930, Dorade has raced in the world's most challenging ocean races. It's what Olin and Rod Stephens designed and built her to do. When we bought Dorade back in 2010, we made a promise that we would not allow her to become a museum piece sitting at a dock. We wanted to bring her back to fighting form, and get her back out into blue water, competing against the world's best boats and crews in the most difficult ocean races. So far we've been competing mainly in races where Dorade was victorious back in the thirties, but now that we've completed that series, we're looking for new challenges, just as Olin and Rod would have. And there's no bigger challenge in the world of sailing than the Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race.

Is this a personal goal for you to continue the legacy of the boat?

When we first purchased the boat, we thought of her as a recreational pursuit... An activity to do in our free time. She's become much more than that, taking us places we would never have gone and serving as a letter of introduction to whole sailing communities who have embraced us with open arms. She has completely changed the course of our lives. What we've discovered is that you really don't own a boat like Dorade, you're just a custodian of her as an irreplaceable part of maritime history. We take that responsibility very seriously, and hope to add many more chapters to her winning history.

What are your hopes in meeting with the Australian sailing fraternity?

We've met and sailed with many Australians over the course of the last five years, and we are looking forward to getting to know them better on their home turf. Our favorite sailing venues so far have been places like Cowes, England, Maine, and the Med, where there's a long history of sailing and a deep connection with the sea, and the folks there understand and appreciate what we're doing with Dorade. Australia is in a league of its own when it comes to sailing enthusiasts, and even before we arrived, we were feeling the love.