Photography by Rivergate Marina & Shipyard
The five world-class sailing vessels represent the pinnacle of their eras: 90 year-old Dorade; the champion V70, Black Jack; the Reichel/Pugh 100 Black Jack (formerly Alfa Romeo II); Wild Oats XI, eight times line honours winner of the Sydney Hobart; and from the US, the world’s most technically advanced carbon fibre maxi designed to be the fastest monohull ever built, Comanche.
The world’s most successful ocean racing yacht over the past nine decades, the famous 16-metre long American yawl built in 1929, Dorade will compete at Audi Hamilton Island Race Week 2017.
No yacht in the long history of the sport has won more of the world’s major races, nor covered more offshore racing miles than Dorade.
She has collected first place trophies for the Fastnet Race out of England, the Bermuda race, the Transpacific Race between Los Angeles and Hawaii plus many more.
Now the property of proud owners, Matt Brooks and Pam Rorke Levy, Dorade was fully restored at an Italian yacht yard 20 years ago and has been maintained in superb condition since. All her wins over eight decades have been in the northern hemisphere, so her owners decided it was time to give their yacht the chance to be a winner in southern hemisphere events.
After contesting this year’s Audi Hamilton Island Race Week, 19 to 26 August, Dorade will head south to Sydney and be prepared for this year’s Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race on Boxing Day.
The other four racing yachts need little introduction: Black Jack is a familiar competitor in the major big boat races, including three-time winner of the Brisbane to Gladstone race, top three finishes in the Sydney Gold Coast and has completed two Sydney Hobart races.
Owner, Peter Harburg names his boats “Black Jack” for his friend and Formula One legend, the late Sir Jack Brabham.
The latest incarnation, the supermaxi, recently came a tight second place to Wild Oats XI in the Sydney Gold Coast Yacht Race. The two yachts started life as near-identical Reichel-Pugh designs, built by McConaghy Boats in Sydney in 2005.
Hamilton Island will be the next in a series of showdowns between the sister ships. Skipper Mark Bradford is confident Black Jack will give Wild Oats XI a run for her money, having signed on as crew Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup winning sailor, Tom Slingsby.
Wild Oats XI is a champion maxi and has rewritten the record books for the Rolex Sydney Hobart on a number of occasions. Apart from being first to finish on eight occasions over just 10 years, she was the first yacht ever to take four straight line honours.
After two disappointing retirements with damage in 2015 and 2016, Wild Oats XI and her seasoned crew, led by Mark ‘Ricko’ Richards, are hoping for redemption in 2017.
As new contenders loom, including 2015 winner, Comanche and defender, Perpetual Loyal, which won the 2016 edition in a race-record time of one day, 13 hours, 31 minutes and 20 seconds, carving almost five hours off the previous record set by Wild Oats XI in 2012, Wild Oats XI has made a series of radical modifications and high-tech upgrades to remain ahead of the fleet.
Andrew Cannon, General Manager at Rivergate Marina & Shipyard said the main reason Rivergate is the yard of choice for sailing yachts is “the deep-water access, large space for all the vessels’ spares storage and open areas for the crew to layout monster sails and masts”.
“Rivergate provides lots of open space and world-class service that makes the crews feel welcome and brings them back year after year.”