Postcard History: The Victura

By Carla Charter

BOSTON, MA. – To many, summer brings thoughts of beautiful white sails on sparkling blue New England waters. One of the most famous sailing boats, The Victura, a favorite of John F. Kennedy’s is on display every summer at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.

The boat was bought by the Kennedy family when John was 15. John Kennedy was the one who named the boat the Victura.  “Victura is Latin for She Who will Be Victorious which is ironic considering Kennedy was struggling with Latin in school. However you can clearly see his competitive streak in the naming,” said Stacey Bredhoff, Curator at the John F. Kennedy Museum said.

“This boat was where Kennedy learned to sail,” Bredhoff continued. The boat was specifically designed for the choppy waters of Nantucket sound. Kennedy had sailed before his family purchased the Victura but this is the one he honed his skills on.  His family believed that the things he learned on that boat contributed to his survival during World War II when his boat, the PT109 was sunk.”

Sailing was one of his favorite activities when he was at the Kennedy Compound, Bredhoff said.  Jackie and his children also sailed on the Victura.   The family, including John were involved in sailboat racing during the summer. One of the trophies won by Kennedy is on display at the museum. In the archives at the museum there are lots of notes and doodles sketched out images of the boat. The museum acquired the Victura in 1990.

Other items on display at the museum include a life preserver from the Honey Fitz, the presidential yacht and photos of Kennedy sailing. The sailboat is on display during the summer months at the museum.

The museum also shows a 14-minute film about the Cuban Missile Crisis which includes secretly recorded tapes Kennedy made of discussions with his advisors as the crisis was unfolding. “It gives people a sense of the tension and terror of the crisis.,” Bredhoff said.

As part of an ongoing exhibit on Entertaining at the White House, the museum has a special exhibit running through April of 2019, highlighting a state dinner honoring the president of the Ivory Coast, Houphoet-Boigny. The exhibit includes a gown Jackie Kennedy wore to the dinner and a seating chart for the state dining room for the event.  Also on display is a program for the evening’s entertainment which was a  ballet called Billy the Kid, performed by the American Ballet Company and written by Aaron Copeland as well as an acceptance to the dinner by Copeland. More information about the Victura and the John F. Kennedy Museum can be found at www.jfklibrary.org

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