Gruelling challenge

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    Australia’s famous yacht race begins in Sydney Harbour on Boxing Day

    Waves of adrenalin, bone-aching exhaustion and the ever-present risk of calamity. These are the key ingredients to one of the world’s great ocean classics – the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, a 630 nautical mile (1166km) dash down eastern Australia that starts on Boxing Day.

    A record number of foreign boats have entered this year, including five from Asia, along with others from Germany, Russia, the United States and New Zealand.

    Britain’s sole representative is Richard Stain, a former businessman from Cheshire, who bought the yacht Samskara specifically to race from Sydney to Hobart. He has never competed in the famous blue-water blockbuster, telling the BBC he is desperate for a smooth ride.

    “I do suffer a little bit from seasickness, so I’m just hoping that I’m not going to be seasick because I know what it’s like. If you get it bad it can just knock you out,” he says.

    ‘Hanging on wherever you can’

    Mr Stain’s crew includes a Dutchman, an Australian and a Welsh lobster fisherman, who is the navigator.

    At race HQ at the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia in upmarket Darling Point, Mr Stain clambers down a narrow companionway, where below deck Samskara seems surprisingly spacious and comfortable. But he says it can be a hellish place to be.

    “This could be absolutely…



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