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Hundreds of sailors have descended on Russell in the Bay of Islands, after the annual Coastal Classic Race from Auckland.

Sixty-foot trimaran Team Australia took line honours, but there was still plenty of action further back in the fleet.

On first appearances, Mr Roosevelt looks like your standard cruiser. But come Labour Weekend, like 151 other boats, the 42-footer is in race mode for the Coastal Classic, and chasing victory.

“Any boat can win this on the day,” says Mr Roosevelt skipper Matt Woodley. “It depends on the conditions and how you’re optimised. Our boat was built in 1985. She’s a timber boat but she was built for coastal racing and offshore racing. She’s done a few miles, so she goes pretty well.”

Mr Roosevelt. Photo by Lissa Photography

Mr Roosevelt. Photo by Lissa Photography

 

The real race for line honours was down to 60-foot trimarans Team Australia and Team Vodafone Sailing, who led the fleet out of the harbour.

For some, that was as far as their race lasted, while further back Mr R battled for position around North Head.

And with conditions geared towards an upwind race, that meant a hard slog for the crew.

“Out of all the sports I’ve done, it’s a true test,” says Mr Roosevelt crew member Paul Smith. “You can’t get off. You can’t think, ‘I’ve had enough’ and get off the boat, because you can’t do it.”

A squall off Whangarei heads turned a wet ride into a drenching, and like most of the fleet a nighttime finish into Russell, which for Mr Roosevelt finally came at 5:30am.

But with 30 boats failing to even reach the finish, sometimes crossing the line is a victory in itself.

“There was a lot of wind halfway through the race, and no wind right at the end, so had a bit of everything,” says Woodley. “So you could say it was great just to get here.”

And for those still chasing a win, there’s always next year.

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