Search pages:
Search images:
Find a page:
Find a page:
Lesley Brydon

Current City/HometownSydney
ClubCruising Yacht Club of Australia
Boats Sailed OnBallyhoo

Lesley Brydon

About Lesley

Lesley was one of the crew on Barbarian, the first all-female crew in the 1975 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race.

Lesley grew up in Gladstone Queensland, where she started sailing dinghies at an early age from the Port Curtis Sailing Club and was initiated into ocean racing by her parents who played a key role with their local club and the QCYC, running the Brisbane to Gladstone Race in its early years.

Moving to Sydney in the sixties, she became a member of the CYCA and sailed regularly on Rupert Murdoch's ketch Ilina. Her husband Curly Brydon, a popular figure in the sailing and business worlds, usually skippered the yacht and at other times, the pair would join the crew of Don Mickleborough's Southerly for the sheer fun of it.

In those years, Lesley's sailing opportunities were limited to harbour and short off-shore events, as women were generally not considered useful in ocean racing.

This changed in the early 70s when Mickleborough, who was commissioned by Jack Rooklyn to recruit a crew for his Bob Miller designed 70-foot sloop Ballyhoo, approached her to sign on as cook. "Yep. I can do that", she thought. It was the breakthrough she had waited for.

Signing on in Sydney, she participated in Ballyhoo's line honours win in the 1975 Brisbane to Gladstone race. Then, with a small crew led by legendary navigator Stan Darling, undertook a strife-ridden Trans Pacific journey to deliver the yacht to Los Angeles with what turned out to be a severely damaged keel.  

Designer, Bob Miller (before he became Ben Lexcon) joined the crew when Ballyhoo became the first Australian yacht to enter the Transpac in 1975, sharing the role of sailing master and tactician with Don Mickleborough. It was a colourful partnership (or maybe contest).

The crew stayed on in Hawaii to compete in the Hawaiian Island Series including an ill-fated Round the State Race when Ballyhoo lost her rudder in dangerous conditions and the crew rigged up a replacement rudder using the teak dining table.

Later the same year, Lesley joined the Ballyhoo crew for the China Sea Series including the long race from Hong Kong to Manilla. She has the distinction of being refused entry to the Hong Kong Yacht Club, when she arrived at reception without a male escort.

Returning from the international campaigns, Lesley was invited to join the all-female crew of Barbarian for their history making Sydney-Hobart race.


I've always thought my love of the sea had something to do with my birth sign, Pisces.

But it was probably inevitable that a kid growing up in a place like Gladstone would be drawn to the ocean.

While sailing was in my blood, it was not until 1974 that I found my feet in the world of offshore racing.

I was in the right place at the right time to be chosen to crew Ballyhoo from Gladstone to Los Angeles for the 1975 Transpac.

Then, later that year, I was invited to be part of the first all-female Sydney to Hobart crew, on the beautiful Huon pine sloop, Barbarian.

Read all about Lesley's wonderful adventures here:


MHYC Log June 1976

TO ALL WOMEN MEMBERS OF MHYC                             


MIDDLE HARBOUR YACHT CLUB has kindly agreed to conduct this event on the 14th and 21st November, 1976.

The class of yacht to be used has yet to be decided but there will be one yacht from each of the six clubs who are being invited to compete in the four race series. At the moment, it appears they may be either Endeavour or Triton 24's.

As this is something completely new, we would like to have the maximum possible support from women members of the Club. Team racing is the keenest form of yachting competition and requires quick thinking, fast reflexes, a knowledge of the rules and a good knowledge of the type of yacht that you are sailing.

The M.H.Y.C. Winter series will give a very good opportunity to people to train for the November challenge.

Would any members of the M.H.Y.C. either women or men who wish to compete or support this event either personally or by loaning a yacht, please contact me or leave a message at the Club - 969 1244.

Vikki Willman

MHYC Log October 1976

The Womens Interclub Match Racing Series 1976, is to be conducted by M.H.Y.C. on Sunday, 14th and Sunday 21st November.

This series has attracted womens teams from R.S.Y.S., R.P.A.Y.C., C.Y.C. R.P.E.Y.C., Botany Bay Yacht Club and M.H.Y.C.

As a lead up to this series, a very interesting seminar on match racing tactics and rules was conducted at the Clubhouse on Tuesday 28th Sept­ember by Jim Hardy and Tony Mooney. We wish to extend our appreciation to these gentlemen for their time and interest, which, without any doubt was very much appreciated by the seventeen women sailors who were present.

MHYC Log December 1976

MHYC Log December 1976

The Womens Inter-Club Match Racing Series was an outstanding success, attracting a large spectator fleet, newspapers, magazines and television stations.

The series being the first of its kind was not without its teething problems some of which seemed at the time, unsurmountable. However everything seemed to sort itself out and I feel now that its future is assured.

The series was won by Royal Prince Edward Yacht Club. Their team, captained by Judy Spicer and a very capable crew of 'loverlies', won every heat they started in. The other clubs represented were - Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron -Pat Warn; Royal Prince Alfred Yacht Club - Robyn Grosvenor; Botany Bay Yacht Club - Thompson; Cruising Yacht Club of Australia - Leslie Brydon and Middle Harbour Yacht Club was capably represented by Vicki Willman.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend our thanks to Harvey Milne, Grahame Robertson, James Dibble, Geoff McBean and John Garner and Kerry Partridge who made their yachts available for the series, and a special thanks to Cavalier Yachts Pty. Ltd. who co-ordinated the loan of the boats.



First All female Regatta in Sydney Harbour - Australian Sea Spray 17th Dec 1976

Those Cavalier Ladies really Pushed their Flying Machines

Edwards wins the Barbarian Cup

JUDY SPICER, who usually sails on Etchells, won all five heats of the Barbarian Cup (for women!) and brought the Cup back to her club, Royal Prince Edward. She skippered Little Cav, one of six Cavalier 26s loaned for the series which was held on Middle Harbour late in November.

She was ably assisted by Anne Martin, Judy Furber and Mandy Furber.

The Barbarian Cup was presented by the all-girl crew of Barbarian, the yacht which made headlines in the 1975 Sydney to Hobart Race. Vicki Willman skippered Barbarian in the Hobart and she also skippered Rough Rider into fourth place in the Cup series for Middle Harbour YC. Ruth Reinehart, Pam Brinsmead and Helen Halliday helped her.

The CYC's team of Leslie Brydon, Ann Wilson, Robyn Miles and Francis Johnston tied with MHYC for fourth spot with two heat wins. They sailed Cavatina.

RSYS and Botany Bay Yacht Club tied for second overall. The Squadron crew of Pat Warn, Joyce Warn, Marjorie Coleman, Eve Shephard and Verity Halvorsen sailed Laura. Botany girls - Maureen Thompson, Clareen Brown, Catherine Brown, Ann Brown and Pauline Eltoft - sailed Too Much. The Squadron and BBYC won three heats each.

Sixth, but not least, were Royal Prince Alfred YC lasses sailing Bolero. They didn't win a heat yet sailed well Robyn Grosvenor, Helen Cotben, Moyce Cahill, Jan Tunbridge and Nan Paul represented the Alfreds.

The Cup was sailed for in Cavalier 26 yachts which were balloted for before the series. No dramas or accidents were recorded and the all-girl crews earned praise for their good boat handling. Vicki Willman provided the only incidents: she broke the start twice.

One spinnaker, three headsails and one mainsail were allowed on each Cavalier.

After the main presentation, the owners of the Cavaliers were presented with engraved winch handles by Barlow and the girls gave them tankards in appreciation.

Next season's series should be keenly contested with honour to uphold


CYCA Video Archive

Video Archive Project - Lesley Brydon AM

Video Archive Project - Lesley Brydon AM - Cruising Yacht Club of Australia ( 28/06/2021

Lesley Brydon AM was a crew member on Barbarian, which was the first ever all-female crew to sail in the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race in 1975.

She completed many international campaigns, most notably on board Jack Rooklyn's Ballyhoo, and also sailed regularly on Rupert Murdoch's ketch Ilina and Don Mickleborough's Southerly.

Part 1 of the interview with Lesley covers: Lesley's early sailing days in Gladstone, sailing on Ilina with Curly Brydon, Rupert Murdoch and Don Mickleborough, sailing across the Pacific on Ballyhoo, and the 1975 Transpac with Jack Rooklyn and Bob Miller.

Part 2 of the interview with Lesley covers: Hawaii in 1975 on Ballyhoo, Barbarian and the first all female crew to race to Hobart in 1975, winning the South China Sea Series in 1976, publishing Offshore, visiting Rupert Murdoch, the Dame Pattie America's Cup challenge in 1967, and nephew Tom Barker.

Page output 0.016004