On may 26, 1906, a trio of sailboats cast off their lines in Brooklyn, New York, bound for the history books. The 28- and 38-footers were headed for Bermuda,
and they were shockingly small racing yachts by the standards of the time. At the turn of that century, 120- to 130-foot America's Cup yachts were the ocean-racing legends people knew by name — Defender, Vigilant, Columbia — yachts they read about in newspapers that left their fingers stained with ink, yachts that were always manned by professional crew, and that lay beyond the grasp of a public who thirsted for more. The smaller yachts going out that day, in the first running of what we now call the Newport Bermuda Race, were invited as a thumb in the eye to the notion that serious boating was for aristocrats only — no everyman need apply. The organizers of that 1906 race wanted to bring more yachtsmen into the ocean-racing fold, the way other visionaries were looking to do the same for everyday people in other pursuits. Two years later, the first Model T Ford was built. America was changing forever.