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.
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.
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.
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……..