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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.

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