When the 52 ft ocean racing yacht Dorade enters a regatta these days, spectators are in awe of the majestic way she travels through the water, looking even better than she did back in the 1930s.
One could almost expect a crew member to emerge from the cabin and walk towards the bow with a quadrant or a sextant and peek through the monocular to take angle measurements. The fact is, Dorade’s navigator these days is more likely to plot GPS waypoints on a software application and check e-mail with an iPad below decks.
Dorade is racing alongside sleek fiberglass hulls in many of the same competitions she entered as a groundbreaking yacht in the 20th century thanks to what owner Matt Brooks of San Francisco calls a “crazy idea.” Mr. Brooks wants his beloved Dorade to not only look good sailing in modern-day versions of the races she entered decades ago, he also wants her to win them again.
Dorade has been faithfully restored to her original racing condition, but her navigation, communication, safety, and data systems have been upgraded to the 21st century. Sextants, compasses, charts, plotters, course finders, vector finders, rulers, tide books, and almanacs have been replaced by satellite communication systems, weather and navigation computers, and even a Wi-Fi network aboard that links various iPads for the crew. Data analysis is a major component of competitive sailing these days, and in this regard Dorade is collecting information about performance in the 2013 season for future races.