May 31, 2023

Lecture Video: “Golden Age of Newport Yachting”

A video from the Museum Lecture Series.

Presented by Robert B. MacKay

May 18, 2023

Newport is known as the yachting capital of the world, and it reached its zenith during the period between 1917 and 1946. Many of the nation’s captains of finance and industry skippered legendary yachts that formed an argosy of splendor that has never been eclipsed. Vincent Astor sailed off to World War I as an officer on his own yacht, the Noma, contributing to the war effort, while Harriette Goelet, a determined widow, captained her own vessel and became one of the first yachtswomen entitled to fly the New York Yacht Club’s burgee. Howard Hughes anchored in the channel, forcing a Fall River Line steamer into the bank. Notables from around the world, such as Sir Thomas Lipton, flocked to Newport once the America’s Cup found a home there in 1930. Join yachting historian Bob MacKay as he reveals the rare images and stories behind the age of “extravagant magnificence.”

Robert B. MacKay is a lifelong sailor and classic boat enthusiast who received his doctorate in American and New England studies from Boston University in 1980. He dates his interest in yachting history to having been a member of Rudy Schaefer’s crew that sailed his replica of the schooner yacht America from Newport to England in 1968. Among his recent books are America by the Yard: Cirkut Camera Images from the Early Twentieth Century (W.W. Norton, 2006), Great Yachts of Long Island’s North Shore (Arcadia Publishing, 2014) and Marine Paintings at the New York Yacht Club (2019). He also wrote the introduction to Phil Moore’s Yachts in a Hurry and was editor of Long Island Country Houses and Their Architects, 1860–1940. He is Director Emeritus of Preservation Long Island and former chairman of the New York State Board for Historic Preservation.