HYANNIS, Mass. (AP) – Sen. Edward Kennedy took the helm of his sailboat “Mya” on Monday and rode a stiff southwestern 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 2-hour, 28-minute ride were his wife, Vicki, Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., and relatives including sons Patrick and Edward Jr. and stepdaughter Caroline Raclin.

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.

“It couldn’t be a more wonderful day,” Kennedy told several dozen well-wishers and a handful of reporters who greeted him dockside just down the street from his family’s vacation compound.

The senator said he relished the company of “great friends and family” while Dodd, Kennedy’s closest friend in the Senate, and Vicki Kennedy nodded in agreement.

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.

The Figawi race started in 1972 and takes its name from a question disoriented sailors often ask themselves, “Where the Figawi?” A logo for the race depicts a Native American looking through the wrong end of a telescope.

Kennedy has won the contest twice.

“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, an associate who regularly races with the senator and was on the boat as a crew member.

After the race was over, the group sat at anchor off Hyannis Port for an hour before coming ashore. “We always like to rehash the race,” Nunes said.

The wind, estimated at up to 20 knots, was perfect for a heavy wooden boat such as Kennedy’s, said race spokesman Charlie McLaughlin.

“When you get these conditions, it’s ideal for him,” he said.

The senator has had a limited public schedule since getting out of Massachusetts General Hospital last Wednesday.

Besides skipping the first part of the regatta Saturday, Kennedy also missed a commencement address he was slated to deliver Sunday at Wesleyan University. Instead, he asked Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama to address the graduates – including stepdaughter Caroline – at the Middletown, Conn., campus.

AP-ES-05-26-08 1613EDT

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