JFK's Old Sailboat Restored
(Starlights, April, 1997)

Marblehead, Mass. (AP)
A sailboat John P Kennedy skippered in regattas off Cape Cod as a teenager is ready to race again. Bought at a Florida auction last year for $19,800, the 22 foot Star Class sloop was restored in an old wood shop where Ole Anderson and Marshall Chapman stripped 30-year-old fiberglass to expose the original wood hull. They repaired the long spruce mast and rotted keel, and replaced the pine deck. Weeks were spent filling and smoothing dents in the hull until it was as fine as the day of its 1930 launch. Then came coat after coat of paint.

But it's unlikely Flash II will ever again race on Nantucket Sound or Moriches Bay, where a 19-year-old Kennedy won a race in the 1936 Atlantic Coast Championships. "She'll never be wet as long as I have her, but she'll be ready." Anderson said. "We could put her in the water tomorrow, but I'd be nervous." Restored to near mint condition, Flash II is a beauty, even without its imposing high-rigged sails stretching skyward. The sleek white hull gleams. Varnished wood trim and brass fittings are polished to a shine. "It's nice to have a wooden boat," said Chapman, a veteran boatwright, "most of it's fiberglass nowadays." Fiberglass was unknown in 1934, when Kennedy and his brother Joseph Kennedy Jr. bought the boat, then named Jubilee, from a Long Island man and changed its name to Flash II. It was their second Star Class boat. They sold Flash I soon afterward. The future president took sole title of Flash II in 1940 and sold it in 1942 after entering the Navy. In addition to the Atlantic Coast Championship race, Kennedy piloted Flash II to a victory for Harvard in the 1938 MacMillan Cup in Annapolis, Maryland.

Sailing was a passionate rite of summer for the Kennedys at their seaside retreat in Hyannis Port. Anderson, who restored the boat for a group of investors, hopes the sailboat goes to The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, but admits it's more likely it will be sold to a collector. "I'd like to see somebody sail her for a summer and then give her to the museum. That would be great!" Anderson said. "I'd love to be the crew."

This article reprinted with permission of The Associated Press.