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Transatlantic Race 2015 set to inspire

by Stuart Streuli, NYYC on 19 Jul 2013
Dorade passing Yuca Amory Ross © http://www.amoryross.com
Transatlantic Race – Amid offshore racing tracks, none traces its origin further back than transatlantic. The first race from the United States to England took place in 1866, the result of a healthy wager among three young schooner owners. To solidify that the challenge matched the ante, they decided to send the boats off in December. They needn’t have bothered. Even in the kindest of months, the 3,000 miles of open ocean between the United States and Great Britain can be as rough as any in the world.

The infrequency of transatlantic races is but one indication of their difficulty. Since that first crossing, just 27 other races have been organized from the United States to Northern Europe. Compare that number with classics such as the annual Rolex Sydney to Hobart Race, which has been sailed 68 times, or the biennial Bermuda Race, which will run for the 49th time in 2014.

The Transatlantic Race 2015 will follow the format of the 2011 rendition, starting from Newport, R.I., in late June and early July. The starts will be staggered [Start two of three from the 2011 TR is above] to give the fleet a better chance of finishing close to each other off the Lizard, on the southwestern corner of England. The New York Yacht Club at Harbour Court, in Newport, will send off the fleet in style and the Royal Yacht Squadron will host festivities for the arriving fleet in Cowes.

A special feature of the TR 2015 is that the fleet’s arrival will lead into the Royal Yacht Squadron’s bicentenary celebrations, and the Cowes Week and Fastnet Race events. The 2011 Transatlantic Race fleet included everything from doublehanded Class 40s to racer/cruisers to 100-foot racing machines to the 289-foot modern square-rigger Maltese Falcon. An equally diverse grouping is expected in 2015.

In 1931, the 52-foot yawl Dorade, designed by a young Olin Stephens, won the race from Newport, R.I. to Plymouth, England, launching the legendary designer on his way. In the TR 2015, Dorade will once again challenge the Atlantic. Current owner Matt Brooks has embarked on an audacious plan to bring one of sailing’s most renowned boats back to all the classic races in which she competed, and often succeeded, many years ago.

'When I bought the boat in 2010, I told the broker, ‘I’m going to take this boat, get her ready, and repeat all her early races,’' says Brooks. 'I was promptly told by many people that just wasn’t possible. ‘She’s a fine piece of furniture, you can’t take her out. You’ll ruin her.’ Which made me just want to do it more. So we’re on this endeavor to repeat all these races. It’s looking good. Dorade loves being out on the ocean.'

At this moment, the 52-footer is competing in the 2013 Transpac Race, in which she won overall honors in 1936. The boat completed the Bermuda Race in 2012 and Brooks plans to follow up the TR 2015 with the Rolex Fastnet Race, which Dorade won in both 1931 and 1933.

Brooks is hopeful his early entry into the 2015 Transatlantic Race will inspire other classic yacht owners to enter the race to potentially create a separate classics division. Regardless of the division in which she sails, Brooks is confident in his yacht's ability to compete.

'I think she can win,' he says. Any doubters should spend some time reviewing her extensive track record of success.

For those who participate, the TR 2015 will provide an experience of a lifetime. The minimum LOA is 40 feet; there is no maximum. An Open Division creates the possibility for some outside-the-box entries. The fleet size will be limited to 50 yachts.

The Notice of Race has been posted and the on-line entry process is now available at Transatlantic Race. If you are considering the race, you may indicate your level of interest through the website or via email to transatlanticrace@gmail.com.

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