A few years ago, Matt Brooks and his wife Pam Rorke Levy were looking for a classic boat they could fix up when they found the Dorade, a 52-foot wooden yacht that had set racing records in the 1930s. Brooks immediately liked what he saw, so he said he wanted the boat and added an off-the-cuff remark: He wanted to race it.
It isn’t unusual for a skipper to put a classic wooden boat in a short coastal race, but Brooks had a more ambitious goal. He wanted to race the Dorade in the great ocean competitions it won in the 1930s and 1940s. First, people told Brooks it couldn’t be done, and after he bought it, it took some convincing to get a crew to sail it.
“That became Matt’s Crazy Idea,” Brooks says. “I wanted to compete on a basis of classic seamanship and yachting. Yes, it’s harder to do, but that’s the fun of it.”
In this conversation with guest host Sean Cole, Brooks explains how what started as a modest goal to finish the races the Dorade had won – including the Newport Bermuda and the Fastnet races – became the talk of oceanic racing circles. And he tells Sean the story of what happened when he entered the Dorade in a race it had won 77 years ago this summer: The 2,225-nautical-mile Transpacific Race from Los Angeles to Honolulu.