The Mr. Roosevelt racing team has three main participants - Mr. Roosevelt the boat, Matt Woodley the skipper, and Mark Hewitt-Park the crew.
The team has been formed with the goal of racing in the major NZ two-handed yacht races throughout 2010-11. Matt and Mark seek the adventure, competition and camaraderie of participating in these races. We would like to be respected by our competitors as a crew that gives 100% and always shows good sportsmanship. If we can get some good results along the way then that would be a bonus!
Before Matt and his wife Cath bought Mr. R. there was already a bit of history with the boat. In the 1990's the Wellington sailing scene was in good health, with many yachts such as the Young 11's and Elliot 1050's participating in offshore events. Matt and Mark competed together on a Young 11 called 'Slippery When Wet'.
A 'foreigner' from the South Island, Mr. R. would regularly come across the straits and race against the Wellington fleet. It had a reputation as a quick boat and it was sailed well. When a vessel has good pedigree it never goes away, and the memories of getting dusted by the blue boat still linger with our current crew.
Matt Woodley, skipper of Mr R. has sailed since he was a young lad. He sailed in all the dinghy classes, including the iconic P-class, at Paremata boating club, north of Wellington.
After graduating Matt moved to Auckland and has owned a succession of keelboats before Mr. R. As well as sailing big boats Matt has dabbled in skiff racing (building an 12ft R-Class skiff with Mark in 1994), and was a founding member of the F18 catamaran class in New Zealand.
Matt is an active member of Royal Akarana Yacht Club.
In real life Matt is the General Manager of Marketing at Holden New Zealand.
Mark Hewitt-Park also learned to sail as a boy in the Pauatahanui inlet at Paremata Boating Club.
After sailing skiffs and keelboats with Matt as a student, Mark moved to Australia in 1996 and has lived there since. Whilst he has been in Aussie, sailing has provided Mark with opportunities to participate in many championships in Australia and overseas.
As well as racing dinghies and one-design keelboats, Mark regularly competes in offshore races, including annual trips south in the Sydney to Hobart race.
The Mr. R programme is a great chance for Mark to get back and sail in home waters after a long break from offshore sailing in New Zealand.
When not on the water, Mark is married to his supportive wife Mandy, is a father of two young girls, and the director of a small internet agency called Elephant Head Productions.
Mr. R is a Davidson 42 racing and cruising yacht. The boat is a great example of the multi-purpose boats that have been raced and cruised by kiwi sailors for generations. At 42 feet (nearly 13 metres) it isn't a small boat, but it isn't so big that it can't be raced or cruised with just two crew.
The boat isn't as radical and as full-on as modern race boats, but it still performs well. Mr R will rate very well on IRC handicap . After an extensive refit and upgrade in 2009, the boat is in excellent condition.
"Mr. Roosevelt" is an unusual name, and there is sometimes speculation about why the boat is called that. The boat was the second of two boats built for American clients. The original boat was called Teddy Bear, after president Roosevelt. The second boat dropped the nick-name. We assume they meant the president but there are many historical figures who go by this name, including:
32nd President of the United States. Led nation out of depression and through WWII. A bit of a philanderer but otherwise a good bloke.
26th President of the United States. Did all kinds of interesting stuff. He hated being called "Teddy".
Roosevelt Franklin is a Muppet and fictional character featured on the children's television series Sesame Street during the early 1970s.
The teddy bear was alledgedly named after Teddy Roosevelt. Teddy bears don't have anything to do with sailing but it's included here for completeness.