This is, quite simply, the definitive history of the boat generally considered the greatest ocean racing yacht of the twentieth century. It begins with Roderick Stephens, Sr. whose "deep and abiding faith in his sons' talents, character and good sense" led him to invest his reputation and fortune to help Olin Stephens, then little more than a teenager, and Olin's brother Rod, design and build an ocean racer to compete against the finest offshore yachts of the day.
The result was Dorade, a 52-foot yawl launched in May 1930 into the teeth of the Great Depression. Lightly built, with spartan accommodations and berths like coffins, she performed well in her shakedown summer. But it was the 1931 Transatlantic Race, which, under Olin's command, she won in sixteen days and an hour, beating the next (and much larger) boat by two days, a winner on corrected time by over four days, that set her name firmly in the annals of yachting history -- and changed forever the face of ocean racing yacht design.
In the eight decades since her launching she has been actively raced and restored under the ownership of a host of colorful and devoted characters on both coasts. A common sight off San Francisco and Seattle, a frequent racer in the Solent and Mediterranean, and now back east to race again off Newport, she has outlived her modest and beloved designer and most of her owners. She has crossed the Atlantic to England and the Pacific to Hawaii numerous times, suffered collisions, lapses of good judgment, and misguided improvements. She has endured repairs and restorations, witnessed love affairs, heartbreak, and even death. This is her story, from stem to stern, nautical history at its best and related with affection, accuracy, and eloquence by a sailor who has sutured together the many strands, both verbal and visual, of a great yacht's life. And what a life it has been! As she ghosted past the Lizard that morning of Tuesday, 21 July 1931, to shock the yachting world with her Transatlantic win, Dorade was first to finish and has remained first ever since.
About Douglas Adkins
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Published January 15, 2012
by David R Godine.
Sports & Outdoors.