A direct, detailed biography of the ""the world's most famous yacht,"" the America. Built in 1851 by George Steers and taken for a mere $20,000, it became the pride of the New York Yacht Club, was the first yacht to cross the Atlantic for racing and at Cowes won the prized cup, thereafter called ""the America's cup,"" from the Royal Yacht Squadron. In the Civil War she performed first for the Confederacy on a trans-Atlantic mission, then, rescued from scuttling, for the Union as a blockade runner. Ben Butler bought her for a song. A Boston banker saved her from going commercial and sold her to the Naval Academy for one dollar. There, in 1942, she was undergoing a thorough reconstruction job when a heavy snow crashed her protective shed and her fragile shell. Today a replica is being built; the America Cup races are to be run. No tacking here, it's all straight sailing: readership will depend on the interest of the subject, not its presentation.