At the Monaco Classic Week JFK’s ‘Floating White House’ goes on display

MONACO, Sept. 18, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — It’s time for Classic Week at the Yacht Club de Monaco. Among 130 vintage boats, including sailing yachts and motoryachts, moored at the YCM marina until 16th September, the Manitou catches the eye of many. The fascinating sailboat, approximately 18 meters long, hosted John Fitzgerald Kennedy, its most famous owner, at the helm. Nicknamed ‘The Floating White House’, it was equipped with the latest technology to keep the communication going with the presidential office but also, allegedly, with the Kremlin. The wooden interiors, with a small fireplace, a large cabin and the famous bath, hidden by two teak doors, are the main features of the boat. Legend has it Marilyn Monroe also took baths on board while Kennedy spent a lot of time on the Manitou yacht not only working but also in company of family and friends. A photo of him with Jackie Kennedy and Giovanni and Marella Agnelli is still displayed below deck. The history of the sailing yacht dates back to 1937 when the racing car driver James Lowe commissioned it from the famous studio of naval architects Sparkman & Stephens. The Manitou won the Mackinac race in 1938, from Chicago to Lake Michigan, and then won again 1940-41. “In 1956 the boat was donated to the US Navy and JFK sent his attaché to find a boat that would serve the presidential purpose and he found the Manitou. At this point it is said that Marilyn Monroe was also among the guests on the boat. So both Jacqueline Kennedy and Marilyn would board the sailing ship. And the latter, according to the rumors, would have used the tub located below deck but, clearly, we are not sure,” recalls Hamish Easton, current owner of the sailing ship who, however, prefers to be defined as the ‘guardian’ of the vessel. “You never really own such a thing but you can only keep it in custody for a while waiting to entrust it to whoever comes after,” he adds. Now the Manitou is ‘enjoying retirement’ at the port of Cannes by taking part in 6-10 historic regattas a year. 

Moving on to motorboats, the 1908 ‘Triton’ deserves a special mention. “It is a steam launched engine which is very comfortable to run because you have no noise, no odor and you have a really long run distance with just a few liters of gasoline. We also have a full equipped kitchen on it,” explains Michael Hoelzl, project manager of Autoboote Berlin. The historical shipyard, founded by Carsten Kling, mainly restores pre-world war and pre-I world war boats. Alongside comes the ‘Wild Cat’ a 1923 powerboat is Rolls-Royce engined with 27 liters of displacement and 650 horsepower. “There’s is a very interesting tendency which started around 10-15 years ago and now we actually only have historical boats and we change from combustion to electric or if the client to hybrid electric,” Hoelzl adds. 

Impressive while walking on the quay is the Mariska (1908). It is one of the last four classic 15-meter class yachts still sailing, along with Tuiga, The Lady Anne (1912) and Hispania (1909), which compete mainly in Mediterranean regattas, “The Mariska is a 15 meter, one of the most famous classes in Europe and I am from the Manhattan Yacht Club, in New York Harbour. We’ve flown over this regatta. We’ve raced at the Monaco Classic Week many times but this is the first time racing on a 15 meter. It’s so beautiful and a joy for us to come here and race this kind of boats,” says Michal Fortenbaugh, commodore of the Manhattan Yacht Club. 

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