Maiden sets sail to smash more barriers
Tracy Edwards’ Whitbread Round the World yacht, Maiden is now bound for Kerala, India, on the first leg of a two-year voyage sailing around the world to promote education for girls.
The 58ft Bruce Farr-designed maxi left the Royal Southern Yacht Club on the Hamble on 7 November 2018. Onboard was a mixture of old and new faces, with Jo Gooding, part of the original 1989-90 Whitbread all-female crew, joining Belinda Henry, Matilda Ajanko, Jenni Kneale, Amelia Ralphs and Emily Chambers. Nikki Henderson, who, at 25, skippered Visit Seattle to second place in the 2017-18 Clipper Round the World Race, leads them. She said skippering Maiden for two legs was an honour.
‘There is a great sense of responsibility. As soon as we leave this dock we are going to be role models for other women both in the industry and around the world and I hope we live up to the expectations,’ she told YM.
Maiden has been completely refitted, having been found rotting in the Seychelles and brought back to Hamble Yacht Services in 2017.
Edwards, who made history by leading the first all-female crew in the Whitbread, said once Maiden was sandblasted, the true extent of the work was revealed. In places, the hull was less than a millimetre thick.
‘Now, she looks stunning. She is a little modernised, not too much, we didn’t want to change the feel of her but the nav station looks very different. My big old clunky nav station with the big old radios and weather faxes has all gone now,’ laughed Edwards. Is it still her
Maiden? ‘Oh my god, that is my old boat, she just looks a bit shiny now,’ she replied.
Edwards still hasn’t sailed on the refurbished Maiden, and is happy to ‘take a back seat.’. ‘I need to leave my
Maiden where she is – in my memory and in my heart. This isn’t about me, this is about Maiden, women’s empowerment and girls’ education and our new crew,’ stated Edwards.
Instead, she will focus on The
Maiden Factor. The not-for-profit organisation is using Maiden to promote girls’ education and raise money to directly support a group of charities already working in the field.
There are currently 130 million girls worldwide who have no access to education. At each of the voyage’s 23 destinations, the crew of Maiden will be engaging with communities to raise awareness and will be visiting local schools, educational projects and charities.
ABOVE RIGHT: Tracy Edwards (bottom left) withMaiden’s crew, who will be visiting 13 countries during the two-year world tour. BELOW: It took 18 months to refitMaiden after she was found abandoned in the Seychelles