The Star Class Sailboat, Flash II, owned and raced by John F. Kennedy between 1934 and 1940, is getting ready to cross the auction block in Texas. The boat was raced by JFK and his older brother Joseph P. Kennedy also part-owner of the craft in the Nantucket Sound Star Fleet, but was also used frequently by the brothers for pleasure sailing. It will be sold as part of Heritage Auctions
' May 18, 2015 Americana & Political Grand Format Auction.
The boat, registered as #721 by the International Star Class Yacht Racing Association, is 22+ feet long, with a 30+ foot tall mast, fully 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," said Mark Prendergast of Heritage Auctions. "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 had previously purchased Star #902, the first Flash, which they sold in 1936 after discovering Flash II was simply 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 of all that this boat would lead JFK to was in the 1937 Atlantic Coast Championship, winning a race (but not the championship) where he won by an unheard of 4-1/2 minutes a testament to both the boat and to the future president's superb handling skills.
"It's well-documented that JFK loved to race this boat," said Prendergast. "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."
The most recent 19 years of this venerable sailboat's life is incredibly well documented and quite colorful, all of it relating to car and boat restorer Ole Anderson, who purchased it at auction with the intention of restoring and then selling the historic sloop. In a bizarre turn, the boat was seized by the DEA in late 2004 as "property derived from the proceeds of narcotics distribution" based on Anderson's conviction as a marijuana trafficker. Civil forfeiture proceedings were filed in February 2005 and the Flash II was sold at auction later that year by the United States Marshals Service, which brought the boat to its current owner, Frank Harvey, of Houston, TX.
Mr. Harvey does not sail, but he has cherished and preserved this historic boat because, as a young man, he campaigned on behalf of JFK's presidential election in 1960.
"Imagine, if you can, putting to sea in the very sloop that JFK and his brother used to navigate the choppy waters of Nantucket Sound," said Prendergast. "All the skills JFK gained from those years on Flash II served him well later as he guided the ship of state through some perilous times. This an extraordinary and unique opportunity, really. It's a piece of American royalty and it's ready to set sail again."