VIDEO: JFK sailboat heads to auction in Texas

John F. Kennedy’s Star Class sailboat, Flash II, is getting ready for the auction block in Texas.
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John F. Kennedy’s Star Class sailboat, Flash II, is getting ready for the auction block in Texas.

Owned and raced by JFK and his older brother, Joseph P. Kennedy, between 1934 and 1940 in the Nantucket Sound Star Fleet, the boat also was used frequently by the brothers for pleasure sailing.

It will be sold as part of Heritage Auctions’ May 18 Americana & Political Grand Format Auction.

The boat, registered as No. 721 by the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association, is more than 22 feet long and has a mast that is more than 30 feet tall, conforming to Star Class standards.

“The Kennedy brothers made quite a name for themselves in the Nantucket Sound Fleet racing circuit with this boat in the late 1930s,” Mark Prendergast, of Heritage Auctions, said in a statement. “It’s also been the subject of extraordinary and painstaking restoration. Not only is it a piece of American history, it’s also seaworthy and ready for adventure.”

This boat was actually the Kennedy brothers’ second Star sailboat (thus the “II” designation). They previously purchased Star No. 902, the first Flash, which they sold in 1936 after discovering that Flash II was a superior boat when they won the Nantucket Sound Star Class Championship with it that year.

Racing for Harvard in the East Coast Collegiate Championship in 1938, they won the MacMillan Cup, besting two future America's Cup winners. The most impressive win that the boat would lead JFK to was in the 1937 Atlantic Coast Championship, where he won a race (but not the championship) by an unprecedented 4-1/2 minutes.

“It’s well-documented that JFK loved to race this boat,” Prendergast said. “It’s not hard to picture the young future president at the command, exhorting his crew toward victory. JFK obviously loved to compete, and prior to World War II this was his favorite boat to race.”

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