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SY Manitou

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Manitou in the 2012 "Les Régates de Nice"
Sail no62
Designer(s)Sparkman & Stephens
BuilderM. M. Davis & Son
Racing career
Notable victoriesChicago-Mackinac Cup - 1938[3]
TypeMarconi-rigged yawl
Displacement60,000 lb (27.2 tonnes)[4]
Beam13.8 ft (4.2 m)[1]
Draft8.6 ft (2.6 m)[1]
Mast height81 ft (25 m)[6]
Sail area1,778 sq ft (165 m2)[4]

Manitou is a 62-foot-long (18.9 m) performance cruising yacht designed and built for racing on the Great Lakes[2][6] and specifically to win the Chicago-Mackinac Race.[7] It notably served as a presidential yacht for United States president John F. Kennedy[8][9] and was known as the "Floating White House."[10] Manitou was built in 1937 at the M. M. Davis & Son shipyard in Solomons Island, Maryland. It was Design No. 99 of naval architects Sparkman & Stephens,[7] who built many America's Cup racing yachts.

Manitou was originally commissioned and privately owned by race car driver James Lowe. She was launched in 1937 and promptly won the 1938 Chicago-Mackinac Race in the cruising division (on corrected time), beating all previous records. She came a close second the next year. In 1940 and 1941, Manitou won the Port Huron to Mackinac Boat Race.[11] After these successes, Lowe sold her, and in 1955 she was donated to the US Coast Guard to be used as a training vessel at the United States Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.[12]

President Kennedy used Manitou while he was in office. Manitou was returned to private ownership in 1968 when she became a training vessel for the Harry Lundeberg School of Seamanship in Maryland. The boat took on the nickname: "Floating White House".[13]

In 1999 Manitou was sold to Laura Kilbourne, granddaughter of James R. Lowe, the original owner. Manitou was then given a comprehensive refit at Deagle's Marine Railway in Deltaville, Virginia.

In late 2010 she was sold to four joint owners and underwent an extensive refit in early 2011. She was then shipped to the Mediterranean where she was raced extensively[4] and made available for charter out of ports on the French Riviera.


  1. ^ a b c "Coast Guard Vessel Documentation". NOAA Fisheries, Office of Science and Technology. Retrieved 27 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b "History". Manitou Yacht. Archived from the original on 4 April 2016. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  3. ^ "Race to Mackinac Trophy Winners (Through 2014) - Chicago Yacht Club" (PDF). Chicago Yacht Club. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e Venables, Guy (20 February 2013). "The Complete Story of John F Kennedy's Yacht Manitou". Classic Boat Magazine. Retrieved 15 December 2013.
  5. ^ "Kennedy Boat "Manitou"". John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  6. ^ a b "Jfk's Yacht Being Restored In Deltaville". The Virginian-Pilot. 3 April 2003. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b "For Sale: S&S Design No. 99 MANITOU". Sparkman & Stephens. 28 July 2010. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  8. ^ Fanta, J. Julius (1968). Sailing with President Kennedy: The White House Yachtsman. Sea Lore Pub. Co. p. 98.
  9. ^ Meath, Jason Killian (August 2009). Hollywood on the Potomac. Arcadia Publishing. p. 2. ISBN 9780738567556. Retrieved 5 June 2013.
  10. ^ Ryan, Des (13 June 2008). "JFK's Classic Yawl is up for Sale". Sail-World. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  11. ^ "Mackinac Race History in the Early 1940s" (PDF). Bayview Mackinac Race. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  12. ^ Collette, Matt (12 October 2008). "Kennedy 'floating White House,' carefully restored, is up for sale". Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 15 April 2009. Retrieved 16 March 2017.
  13. ^ Fanta, J. Julius (1968). Sailing with President Kennedy: The White House Yachtsman. Sea Lore Pub. Co. p. 16.