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Celebrating the spirit of the Sydney-Hobart y -

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Celebrating the spirit of the Sydney-Hobart yacht race

Reporter: Paul Lockyer

HEATHER EWART: It began as a holiday sailing adventure by a group of Sydney yachting enthusiasts in
the Christmas of 1945 when they decided to take a cruise to Hobart. It fast developed into one of
the world's blue water classics the fiercely competitive Sydney to Hobart yacht race. Boxing Day
wouldn't be quite the same without the ritual of the race start from a packed Sydney Harbour. The
race is now dominated by the huge maxi yachts, with crews of 20 or more which can make the journey
to Hobart in under two days. But the spirit of those original sailors in their tiny boats will not
be lost on the race this year. Paul Lockyer reports.

PAUL LOCKYER: For days now, the big boats have been sparring in the waters around Sydney, as they
prepare for the main event a journey of almost 1,200kms lies before them and the maxis again have
the Sydney Hobart race record in their sights. That time, less than 43 hours, was set just last
year by the 30 metre maxi 'Wild Oats XI'. Its crew believes it can repeat that success.

PETER SHIPWAY, CREW MEMBER: If we're out towards the front or in front, that's a great thrill to
win line honours in this race. But just going fast at sea with a good, solid boat and good crew is
exhilarating.

PAUL LOCKYER: More than 80 boats will attempt the long and sometimes dangerous journey.

ADRIENNE CAHALAN, NAVIGATOR, 'WILD OATS XI': It's such a tough race. It breeds a really good brand
of motivated sailors who won't give up, who are used to toughing it out and not giving up.

PAUL LOCKYER: But one yachtsman who's made his name through speed, Sean Langman, won't be at the
helm of his maxi this year. He's competed in 17 Sydney Hobarts, but his experience last year led
him to question where technology was taking the race.

SEAN LANGMAN, SYDNEY-HOBART COMPETITOR: Everything ran off power. We had a computer technician and
a full time engineer just to keep the boat running. We finally ran out of fuel a mile to the finish
and I went, "Wow, now we've got to sail the boat to get it to the finish", and my feeling when I
stepped off was, this isn't what the race or sailing is about to me.

PAUL LOCKYER: Sean Langman has reached back in history to find a boat to enter this year. It's the
'Maluka', built in 1932 for the Clark brothers of Sydney. They tried to sail to Hobart in 1935, but
foundered on a Victorian beach. They patched up the boat and made it all the way the following
year, long before there was any thought of a Sydney Hobart race. 70 years on, Sean Langman is
determined to replicate the feat.

SEAN LANGMAN: Sailing the smallest and the oldest boat in the Sydney to Hobart race will be the
biggest challenge I've ever faced.

PAUL LOCKYER: It's been challenge enough trying to restore the 74 year old boat, which had been
refashioned and remodelled several times during its long life. The 'Maluka' was originally a Ranger
design, the brainchild of Sydney yacht designer Cliff Gale.

BILL GALE: Dad just made that model by making a layer cake of cedar and pine.

PAUL LOCKYER: The designer's 81 year old son Bill witnessed the building of the 'Maluka' and is
thrilled to see his father's work being celebrated decades later.

BILL GALE: I am just beside myself with delight to see it there and competing and also I think it
will perpetuate my father's name for a long, long time.

PAUL LOCKYER: Aside from adding a little extra strength to the body of the boat, the 'Maluka' was
faithfully restored to Cliff Gale's design.

SEAN LANGMAN: Quite a bit had to be done. There's almost 15,000 man hours over 10 and a half
months. Funnily enough, it took 10 months to build the boat and it's taken us nearly 11 to restore
it.

PAUL LOCKYER: For a sport that has always celebrated and embraced its rich history, this was a big
moment. Bill Gale for one has no doubt that the boat his father designed will not let Sean Langman
down on his trip to Hobart.

BILL GALE: It is virtually indestructible as far as I'm concerned. It will last. It won't need a
major overhaul for 50 years, if then.

PAUL LOCKYER: The 'Maluka' finally went through sailing trials last weekend. As a veteran of the
storms of 1998, Sean Langman knows full well what the boat might have to confront.

SEAN LANGMAN: The noise got me everywhere, down below, the panic on the radio got me and up on deck
the noise through the rigging. This little boat in those sort of conditions, it's really going to
be a bit like Shackleton's voyage, I suppose. It's going to be about survival. That's the same for
all boats. It's just that you handle the storm differently.

PAUL LOCKYER: Sean Langman's decision to trade size and speed for the romance of the sea surprises
no one who knows the passionate sailor.

ADRIENNE CAHALAN: I can understand why he wants to stop for a minute and smell the daisies and
enjoy the fresh air and take a deep breath.

SEAN LANGMAN: What I have found over the last few years by going faster and faster and faster is
you don't really get a chance to look around. The difference here is charging towards an albatross
doing 28 knots, the poor thing is trying to get out of the way. Now it's going to turn around and
have a look and a wave. It is really about communing with the sea again.

PETER SHIPWAY: He'll be very hungry and very, very tired by the time he gets there. It's a tiny,
tiny boat.

BILL GALE: I predict, I hope, I don't think she'll be the last boat in. She might but I don't think
so.

SEAN LANGMAN: I've already got the vision of the sailing down the Derwent River with all sails set.
I've got that implanted in my mind. I believe we are going to make it there by lunchtime on New
Year's Eve and if we can achieve that, that means we've sailed about the same time that the Clark
brothers did some 70 years ago and that's going to be very exciting, I think.