Please select your home edition
Edition
SailX 728x90

Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez - Manitou on the start line

by KPMS on 6 Oct 2012
MANITOU - 2012 Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez © Rolex / Carlo Borlenghi http://www.carloborlenghi.net
If a single boat could fully encapsulate the fabled allure and spirit of Saint-Tropez it has to be Manitou. This 62-ft cutter rigged Marconi yawl may be difficult to differentiate from the other 113 beautiful and historic Tradition yachts lining the wharf at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.

Like so many others, she sports a pristine white hull, teak deck, brass fittings and immaculately varnished spars. What sets her apart from her fellow competitors in the Rolex Trophy fleet and draws the crowds is her association with the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy.

While her prestigious former owner may never have raced her, Manitou was today lined up on the start line for the third race of Les Voiles and the Rolex Trophy. The 14 nautical mile course sent the Tradition yachts north-east out of the Bay of Saint-Tropez, before a leg south, and the westward return home. For the main part, the race was conducted in a wide-ranging five to 15 knots of easterly breeze, which swung a dramatic 180 degrees towards the end of the race.

'It was my friend Philip Jordan who came up with the idea that we might buy President Kennedy’s sailing boat,' explains Claes Goran Nilsson (one of the co-owners along with Jordan, Pat Tierney, and Melinda Kilkenny). 'It took nearly a year to finalise everything and after some renovation work we started racing last year. We have been quite successful this year with a win in the Spanish Cup, but here we’ll have to see!'

It is not immediately clear which element of her past first attracted Nilsson and his friends to the idea of Manitou – its illustrious past or its illustrious designer: 'It’s a Sparkman & Stephens design which meant we liked the boat and it was what we were looking for. They designed great boats, and you know they are real quality from the smallest piece to the biggest. S&S are very special. But even as a Swede I like the story of Kennedy. I remember him as the first modern president with a vision for the future. It is definitely an added ingredient with this boat.'

Nilsson is quietly understated but he clearly understands and appreciates the significant piece of maritime history he has at his disposal: 'When we are racing, we are just one of the other boats, but within this class it is nice to have a good-looking boat with history. It gives us a special feeling when we are talking about the boat, its story, and how we should present it.'

Manitou has long been a valued yacht. In 1936, American James Lowe commissioned Olin Stephens to design him a boat that could win the 289nm Chicago-Mackinac Race. Launched in 1937, Manitou more than fulfilled her owner’s ambitions breaking the elapsed time record and winning the 1938 race on corrected time too. Nilsson and his fellow owners may take great credit for having restored the racing pedigree of a fine yacht.

Some of the most memorable photographs of JFK on the water were taken onboard Manitou and the yacht was known as the ‘floating white house’. That Greek shipping magnate Aristotle Onassis tried to buy her while courting Jackie Kennedy, former First Lady of the United States, only adds to the lustre of Manitou’s story. All told her credentials surely give Manitou the right to an exulted place within the exclusive legend of Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.

Manitou, which means ‘spirit’ in Native American, was apparently named after the Manitou Passage on Lake Michigan. An appropriate name for a boat which provokes huge interest wherever she goes in the Mediterranean, and carries the memories of one of world’s most significant individuals. For Nilsson, though, all the classic yachts at Les Voiles have some significance, and the regatta is the better for their presence: 'Les Voiles is special because of all the boats that are here. I think everybody loves the town and this regatta. It is a great place to have the finale for the year.'

Tomorrow marks the fourth and final race for the Rolex Trophy awarded to the best performing yacht over 16m on deck in the Tradition division at Les Voiles de Saint-Tropez.


Societe Nautique Saint Tropez website

Zhik Yachting 660x82North Sails Fast Wildwind 2016 660x82

Related Articles

Azzurra wins the second day of the Audi Settimana delle Bocche
The second day of racing at the classic regatta hosted by the Yacht Club Costa Smeralda saw a big shakeup in positions. The day’s very light breezes forced the Racing Committee to substitute the scheduled coastal race with a windward/leeward race that began at 2:00 PM in light and unstable breezes that tended to shift towards the right.
Posted today at 6:26 pm
Matson is top Brit in 12th after Leg 2 of Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro
Racing his seventh Solitaire, Yoann Richomme sailing Skipper Macif 2014 claimed his first leg win in a time of two days After a tight battle at the top, the podium was defined at the Suzuki buoy off the coast of Portsall, France. Richomme was the first at the sponsored mark for a second time in the race, leaving the fleet in his wake as he blasted up the north-western coast of France towards Paimpol.
Posted today at 6:07 pm
Robin sustains damage to Artemis 43 at Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro
The Artemis Offshore Academy shore team got straight to work on Robin Elsey’s Figaro Artemis 43 following a collision. The Artemis Offshore Academy shore team got straight to work on Robin Elsey’s Figaro Artemis 43 following a collision between the boat and a rock in the Chanel du Four – a notoriously tidal passage on the north western coast of France.
Posted today at 5:53 pm
Underdogs and top dogs sniff out the best breeze at 52 Super Series
In a shifting light-breeze which kept tacticians on their toes, home favourites Azzurra scored their first race win. The gentle breeze moved 50 degrees right over the duration of the race, requiring successive changes to the course axis on each leg of race three of the series. It proved a good day for the underdogs too as XIO and Paprec, two of the oldest boats in the fleet, scrapped over the early lead.
Posted today at 5:29 pm
2016 TP52 Super Series – Race three images by Max Ranchi
Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from race three Photographer Max Ranchi has provided this gallery of images from race three
Posted today at 4:51 pm
My Road to Rio – Part 5 – Maria Erdi
Erdi booked her spot for Rio 2016 in the Laser Radial at the final opportunity, the European qualification event Erdi booked her spot for Rio 2016 in the Laser Radial at the final opportunity, the European qualification event in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Following nervously back in Balatonfured, Hungary was father Gabor, mother Gabriella and siblings Julia, Anna, Gabriella and Janos.
Posted today at 4:36 pm
Three extra places for the Vendée Globe 2016
At a meeting held today with the organisers and skippers, President of the SAEM Vendée made an unexpected announcement. At a meeting held today (Wednesday 29th June) in Les Sables d'Olonne with the organisers and skippers competing in the eighth edition, Yves Auvinet, President of the SAEM Vendée made an unexpected announcement.
Posted today at 4:14 pm
Solitaire Bompard Le Figaro – Yoann in driving seat after stage 2 win
Yoann was chased all the way to the line by Nicolas Lunven on Generali, Charlie Dalin on Skipper Macif 2015 and Morvan. After taking the lead from the initial pace-setter, Gildas Morvan on Cercle Vert, who dominated the early stages from the start at Cowes, Richomme held the initiative as the fleet raced across the English Channel from Land’s End and then stayed out in front during two fast passages of the Chenal du Four and a tour of the Iroise Sea.
Posted today at 2:23 pm
Volvo Ocean Race - Change to Leg 3 and Asian stopovers announced
Volvo Ocean Race organisers have announced a change to the route posted on the Official Noticeboard Volvo Ocean Race organisers have announced a change to the route posted on the Official Noticeboard, and the effect is to have the fleet sail the almost the complete length of the Southern Ocean from Cape of Good Hope to Cape Horn. The fleet will now spend three times the amount of time in the Southern Ocean than enjoyed in the previous two editions of the race.
Posted today at 2:07 pm
Volvo Ocean Race to be contested over longest distance in history
Tough, intense, and featuring almost three times as much Southern Ocean sailing as the previous edition The 43-year-old race around the world – the ultimate ocean marathon, pitting the sport’s best sailors, against each other across the world’s toughest oceans – will start from Alicante in late 2017 with a 700nm sprint to Lisbon, Portugal that will provide the first test of the form guide.
Posted today at 12:48 pm