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By Alasdair McClintock on December 16, 2016 in Sport

On rail.

On rail.

A life on the sea. The very thought evokes all sorts of romantic ideas. The salty air blowing your hair back and washing the troubles of land away. A man or woman and their Labrador, sailing around the world at their own leisure. Going from port to port. A lover in every town.

And then, of course, there are tales of forced buggery and dreadful initiations. Fights to the death and strange forms of prostitution in international waters. But everything has a dark side, doesn’t it? I think it was Batman’s butler, Alfred J. Pennyworth, who said: “Without darkness, there is no light.” Or it could have been Ghandi. Either way, they shared a similar ethos.

And where better to celebrate fights to the death and strange forms of prostitution than Sydney Harbour – the epicentre of all that is good, hedonistic and evil in this country? It will be positively heaving with sailboats and debauchery this summer.

Even us landlubbers can get amongst it; the sailing, that is (and the debauchery too; I won’t judge you). You will have to fork out a little cash, but if you’re after some salty excitement (still talking about sailing) you can jump on board one of the boats involved in the Twilight Racing at Double Bay. No experience is necessary, apparently – just watch out for that swinging thingy attached to the mast.

Then, of course, there is the magnificent spectacle that is the Sydney to Hobart yacht race. This is a serious business. Even the celebrities have to pull their weight in this one, or so they claim.

Us mere mortals have no hope of getting on one of the bad boys involved in this big race. You need years of training or a hell of a lot of cash. It’s the ultimate playground for the rich and is a bit like the English Premier League, in that whoever has the most money usually wins. I’ll be damned if can be bothered researching it, but I doubt there have been too many Leicester City’s in the history of the race. I think I’d remember if a couple of drunk folk in a tinny had won the thing anyway.

But nobody really cares who wins. We follow it with a sick fascination, secretly hoping a celebrity will go overboard and have to be rescued in dramatic circumstances, in high seas, by a fella hanging out of a helicopter.

I, for one, would like to see Kelsey Grammer on one of the yachts. There is something about that man’s huge, balding head that just screams “Seaman!” to me. Put one of those little white hats on him and you’ve got yourself the very paragon of a captain. Deeply disturbed and desperately wrestling with his white whale, you just know he is destined to go down with his ship.

Much like us all, I suppose.