Designer Olin Stephens was just 22 when the 52ft yawl Dorade was launched. The yacht, which he described as “a kind of awakening”, was narrower in beam and lighter in construction than her contemporaries, partly due to the hull frames being steam-bent rather than sawn. Stephens was confident that a slim hull with a deep lead keel would pay off. He was correct – although his calculations were thrown into question at her launch, when the waterline stripe was three inches below the surface.
Any detractors were silenced in the 1931 Transatlantic Race when Dorade, the third smallest yacht in the fleet, reached the line more than two days ahead of the next. She went on to win the Fastnet Race of the same year by a wide margin.