Hay­den faces fast track


MATTHEW Hay­den used to spend his Boxing Days fac­ing bounc­ers, not break­ers.

But the for­mer cham­pion Test bats­man is hav­ing a change of pace af­ter sign­ing up for the crew of Sean Longman’s 30m yacht In­vestec Loyal (for­merly Max­imus) in this year’s Syd­ney to Ho­bart yacht race.

Hay­den, with a group of fel­low sports­peo­ple in­clud­ing swim­mer Geoff Huegill and surf star Layne Beach­ley, has joined the boat which will again raise money for char­ity.

Hay­den once had to swim for his life when a boat he shared with An­drew Sy­monds sank in More­ton Bay but it has never dimished his love for the ocean.

‘‘It is an iconic race and scene and I am pleased to be a part of it,’’ Hay­den said. ‘‘It is a love of the ocean. I have al­ways been in­trigued by sail­ing and ad­ven­ture, but I have never had the time to do a race like this.

‘‘We are in a very good boat. We have a big chance to con­trib­ute to a very his­toric po­si­tion as well.

‘‘It is all about the ca­ma­raderie of be­ing at sea among some skilled war- ri­ors and get­ting a bit of a taste for it.

‘‘You are ei­ther in that world or you are not. It is like rac­ing. Ev­ery­one knows where they were when the Amer­ica’s Cup was won.’’

Hay­den knows from per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence the per­ils of the ocean af­ter his fa­mous in­ci­dent with Sy­monds.

But Hay­den claims it has only served to re­in­force his re­spect for mother na­ture.

‘‘I un­der­stand the power of the ocean and some of the de­struc­tive forces in play when you are at sea, par­tic­u­larly at night.

‘‘If I was to nom­i­nate one time when I would won­der how I would re­act, it would be at night at sea in the mid­dle of nowhere when it is com­pletely dark.

‘‘I have had that ex­pe­ri­ence in my own boat but that was just off shore, not in the mid­dle of Bass Strait in some of the most no­to­ri­ous wa­ters in the world.

‘‘It has al­ways in­trigued me. But there are great chal­lenges with it.

‘‘For me this is a carrot at the end of the race I have been run­ning over the last few months. I am very much look­ing for­ward to it.’’

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