Two young women from Antigua, Alesea Charles, and Junella King, will be crew members aboard the 58-foot ocean racing yacht, Maiden, when it departs in January 2022 from Dubai, UAE, on a continuation of its world tour as a global ambassador to raise funds and awareness for the empowerment of girls through education. Dubbed The Maiden Factor, the project is the brainchild of the UK’s Tracy Edwards. Edwards and her team aboard Maiden were the first all-female crew to successfully complete the 1990 Whitbread Round the World Race. The fact made Edwards the first female winner of the Yachtsman of the Year Trophy and earned her an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) awarded by Queen Elizabeth II. Since then, she has restored the iconic yacht and launched the charitable, The Maiden Factor Foundation, which started a three-year world tour that came to a halt due to the pandemic in early 2020. Before that, Maiden sailed over 33,000-miles, visiting 23 destinations in 12 countries flying the flag for education for girls. The January 2022 launch, with Charles and King aboard, is a continuation of Maiden’s charity tour.
“We ran a Mile Builder program on our previous tour and took young up-and-coming female sailors on legs of the tour where they could notch up miles and be mentored by the skipper and crew. We also worked with and supported the National Sailing Academy in Antigua. So, when we decided that, due to COVID restrictions, we would have three full-time paid apprentices each year of the tour, we asked various sailing academies and schools to nominate girls for the new program. We chose Alesea and Junella as we felt they would benefit from being on Maiden,” says Edwards.
Charles, age 20, learned to sail at Antigua’s National Sailing Academy (NSA) and has since attained an impressive number of miles and courses. King, age 21, started sailing at the NSA at age 15, become a qualified RYA dinghy sailing instructor, then was an alternate for the Team Antigua Island girl rowing team in the Talisker Whiskey Atlantic Challenge 2018, after which she obtained her Day Skipper license on the Isle of Wight in the UK in 2019, raced one-design IC37s in Newport, and most recently participated in the Stars Sailing League on an RC47 in Switzerland.
Maiden’s new itinerary calls for her to be in Antigua for the winter season of 2022/2023, where there will be fundraising events, sailing programs for girls, and visits to the vessel available to the public barring continued pandemic restrictions. To follow Maiden’s voyage, visit www.themaidenfactor.org
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