Dorade Wins TransPac Once Again

The 1936 ocean racer proves her mettle with her second win, 77 years later
Rosenfeld Archive

The Bay Area's Dorade, a narrow-beamed wooden boat built in 1929, repeated history this week, winning the TransPacific Race from Long Beach to Hawaii this week for the second time in the past century.Winning on corrected time of 132 hours, 20 minutes, and 55 seconds, the yacht Dorade beat her closest competitor, Roy Disney's Pyewacket, by just over two and a half hours.  She also took top honors in her class.  

The victory comes 77 years after the first time Dorade won the TransPac race in 1936, when she was owned by San Francisco's James Flood.  Dorade's victory in 1936 helped put the St. Francis Yacht Club on the map in 1936, and she did the club proud once again in 2013 by flying under the St. Francis colors.One of the most prolific champions of the 1930s ocean racing, the yacht Dorade has resided in Sausalito as her owners Matt Brooks and Pam Rorke Levy prepared to take on this year's TransPacific Race from Long Beach to Hawaii.

“They said we'd never make it and if we did, it would take four weeks,” said Dorade skipper and co-owner Matt Brooks. “Skeptics said it was like taking a fine piece of antique furniture and dropping it in the ocean, and she shouldn't be sailed hard in blue waters.We thought if we could match Dorade's 1936 record of thirteen days that would be absolutely fantastic. We actually beat that record by more than a day.  To do what we've done exceeded all our expectations.” 

Dorade set a steady pace from Long Beach to Honolulu in conditions that were ideal for the first wave of starters in the 22 on July 8, turning in an average speed of 7.8 knots, 8.1% faster than her performance in 1936.  She also hit a lifetime record speed of 15.9 knots.

“Really there were eight of us on this — seven crew members and the eighth was Dorade — and she didn't disappoint us,” said Brooks. “She performed flawlessly and did everything we asked her to do.”

Brooks and his wife Pam Rorke Levy bought Dorade in 2010 and spent more than a year refitting it for ocean racing, with the goal of repeating the many races the boat won in the 1930s, a record of wins that stands unbeaten today.    They entered the 83-year-old Dorade in the TransPac against the advice of many in the sailing community, who view the boat as an irreplaceable piece of maritime history.   Sea trials and constant refinement of the boat's systems have been ongoing over the past three years.

“This is such a great story,” said Jim Flood, whose father owned Dorade during the 1930s. “The old boats and old people still have hope."

"What really great and exciting news to have the Dorade win the TransPac Race again," said Judy Flood Wilbur. "My father would have been really thrilled as his win in 1936 was one of the highlights of his life! He truly loved the Dorade."

“Your entire St. Francis Yacht family is cheering your fantastic, historic TransPac victory: job well done,” said James M. Cascino, Commodore, St. Francis Yacht Club. “We can’t wait to hear all the details of this amazing journey, won 77 years after your proud girl’s last TransPac celebration. Know how very proud we are of your achievement.”

To read more about the Dorade's significant restoration, read our interview with Brooks and Rorke Levy from last November.