Boats, like people, have yarns to spin, some better than others. Dorade, the low-slung wooden yawl that revolutionized ocean racing nearly a century ago and launched the career of America's greatest modern yacht designer, has a rich tale to tell. Indeed, it's still unfolding.
At 82, the graceful dowager still slices through whitecaps on the West Coast, where she is in the hands of her 15th owner—or caretaker, as he might more aptly be described. "She was, and is, unique," writes Douglas D. Adkins in Dorade: The History of an Ocean Racing Yacht. "On one hand, lovely and dainty, and on the other purposeful and determined. She is still an icon of a certain beauty in yacht design.''
The story of Dorade, named for the colorful ocean ﬁsh that the Spanish call dorado and that we call mahi-mahi, is as much a celebration of her designer as it is of her. That would be Olin Stephens, whose name stands below only the "Wizard of Bristol," Nathanael G. Herreshoff, atop the Who's Who of American yacht designers.
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[Douglas D. Adkins's] book is a good one, thoroughly researched, well written, with excellent historical photos and artwork. . . . Olin Stephens went on to design better boats, he would have been the first to concede. But dainty, determined Dorade is the one for which he is remembered best. Eighty-odd years on, she's still rolling, free wide and handsome, and still turning heads.