HYANNIS PORT, Mass. – Sen. Edward Kennedy took the helm of his sailboat “Mya” on Monday and rode a stiff southern wind from Nantucket back to Hyannis in a regatta just a week after undergoing a brain biopsy that diagnosed him with cancer.
The Massachusetts Democrat made partially good on a pledge from the prior week by competing in the second half of the “Figawi” boat race between the island and Cape Cod. He missed Saturday’s outbound leg but got up early on Memorial Day and took a ferry across Nantucket Sound to compete in the return leg.
Also aboard for the more than two-hour journey were his wife, Vicki, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and relatives including sons Patrick and Edward Jr. and stepdaughter Caroline Raclin.
“It couldn’t be a more wonderful day,” Kennedy told several dozen well-wishers and a handful of reporters who greeted him dockside.
Kennedy and his wife declined to discuss his upcoming treatment. Doctors are considering using chemotherapy, radiation or a combination to treat the tumor that triggered a seizure on May 17. Treatment could start as early as this week.
Kennedy planned to compete in the Figawi even after doctors determined last week that he suffered from a malignant brain tumor.
He has won the Figawi contest twice. In this race, Kennedy’s time was 1 hour, 54 minutes, good for second place in his five-boat division. A total of 38 vessels competed in six divisions over the 19.7-mile course.
“He was at the helm the whole way, doing what he always does, guiding the boat to the head of the fleet,” said family friend David Nunes of Colorado, who regularly races with the senator and was on the boat as a crew member.