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.’’