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Kinsale Yacht Club’s “Woman on Water” in Australia Tops the Grade in Secret Men’s Business

21st January 2020
Kinsale meets the famous Harbour Bridge. Stephanie Lyons busy on the bow of the successful Sydney 38 Wild One Kinsale meets the famous Harbour Bridge. Stephanie Lyons busy on the bow of the successful Sydney 38 Wild One

Even by Australia’s sometimes weird boat-naming standards, calling your pride-and-joy Secret Men’s Business is a bit off the wall. Yet there is such a boat – in fact there are two, the second one being a TP52. But the first, usually known as SMB 1, is a Murray 42, built in 1996 but completely re-conditioned for 2019-2020. And during the current busy offshore season in Australia, on the bow is Stephanie Lyons, who started her sailing in Kinsale.

Her home was in Kildare, but childhood summers in Kinsale provided the sailing bug, while a taste for offshore experience was whetted by voyages on the brigantine Asgard II with Captain Colm Newport. Aboard Ireland’s sail training ship, she became not only a Watch Leader several times, but was “Watch Leader of the Year” in 2002.

smb one2A superb restoration. The re-vamped Murray 42 Secret Men’s Business 1 in showroom condition - despite being a 1996 boat - as she heads into the current Australian offshore season

rshr19 pre start3Raring to go – Christmas 2019 in Sydney sees Steph ready with Secret Men’s Business 1 for the annual race to Hobart

After school in Dublin, she did commerce and German in University College Cork, and qualified as an accountant, working in Dublin and doing some sailing until in 2010 she re-located to Australia, where she has become established with fund organisation EISS Super as Chief Risk Officer.

She’d resumed sailing, notably with that renowned Sydney Harbour institution, the Balmain Sailing Club, and was soon involved with the hyper-competitive Sydney 38 Class (another Murray Burns & Dovell design), sailing mostly with Larki Missiris on Wild One, which was going so well that in 2017 and 2018, Wild One took the Rolex CYCA Trophy.

sydney 38 wild one4 Sydney 38 Wild One going sweetlywild one prize5When Wild One wins a prize, it is bow-woman Steph Lyons who is nominated to take the honours
But the Missiris crew – like many other Sydney 38 teams – prefer the class’s intensive semi-inshore annual season-long series to the time-consuming offshore campaigns which have the Rolex Sydney Hobart Race as their peak. So for an opportunity in 2016’s race to Hobart, Steph transferred to the First 47.7 Chancellor, and in the current season, she has fitted in time for offshore commitment at the sharp end of Secret Men’s Business 1.

In the hatchet job which is the way the RSHR results pan out in the end-of-race Derwent Driftathon, SMB 1 was plumb in the middle of a cohort which fell on the wrong side of the results. But they managed a respectable result nevertheless, with more boats astern than ahead. And the Australian offshore season 2019-2020 continues for a while yet, with further campaigns for Steph both with SMB 1 and back with the Sydney 38s, this time on the bow in Thirlmere.

steph wild oats6Busy day at the office….Steph Lyons as a corporate guest aboard the famous Wild Oats XI
She certainly packs a lot into her sailing, as recent experiences have included sailing on the famous Supermaxi Wld Oats XI through a corporate event. But meanwhile, she and fellow women members of the Balmain club have been putting together a campaign team to take part in the Tricentenary Volvo Cork Week in July, sailing the chartered First 36.7 Altair.

The word is that there’ll be just one man in the Altair team. They had to find somebody to make the coffee……..

Published in Kinsale
WM Nixon

About The Author

WM Nixon

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William M Nixon has been writing about sailing in Ireland for many years in print and online, and his work has appeared internationally in magazines and books. His own experience ranges from club sailing to international offshore events, and he has cruised extensively under sail, often in his own boats which have ranged in size from an 11ft dinghy to a 35ft cruiser-racer. He has also been involved in the administration of several sailing organisations.

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Kinsale Yacht Club located in Kinsale, County Cork lies just 120 nautical miles from Wales, 240 from North West France and only 500 from the Galician Coast of North Spain.

Kinsale Yacht Club is only a few minutes walk from every shop, hotel, pub and restaurant in Ireland’s gourmet capital but most significantly it is only 30 km by road from Cork, Ireland’s second city, and between the two lies one the region’s main assets - Cork International Airport - with its daily links to many European capitals.

Club members, of which there are more than 600, race Cruisers, One Design Keelboats and Dinghies.

The club runs inshore and offshore races, has an active cruising scene, a powerboat section and most significantly for any real club, a strong and dynamic junior training programme.

Beyond the club’s own marina is the club house itself and the dinghy park. Within the clubhouse are changing rooms, bar and restaurant all with full wheelchair access. The club’s full-time secretariat, steward and marina manager are there to look after sailing visitors and members alike in a relaxed, informal and fun environment.

The club welcomes new members and has always got room on its members’ yachts for new comers to the sport.

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