As the movie Maiden sailed through the world of ceremonies, sweeping up awards and accolades, the film’s subject was on a globe-trotting tour garnering a different kind of attention on the water. Designed by Bruce Farr, built in 1979 for the Swiss Ocean Racing Club, the 58’ sloop circled the world during two grueling races before landing in the imagination and possession of Tracy Edwards. The movie begins at that juncture.
Spoiler alert…Edwards defied all odds by grueling through a multi year fundraising and refit, renamed the vessel Maiden, and ultimately captained it in the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race at the age of 26. With her was the first all-female crew to ever circle the globe.
S/V Maiden made a recent appearance in the Caribbean fresh from California and the Panama Canal. She spent Christmas and New Year in Antigua where Captain Liz Wardley and crew eagerly shared the boat’s latest initiative- The Maiden Factor. The legendary boat is on a multi-year world tour with the mission of empowering young women living with limited access to education.
Maiden’s segue from the ’89/90 Whitbread to sailing ambassador was complicated. Financial obligations forced Edwards to sell. The infamous vessel drifted from owner to owner unti it was abandoned in the Seychelles. In 2015, she heard of the boat’s fate and vowed to save it. Funds were crowd-sourced and in 2016 Maiden was transported to the UK where it underwent another refit, in the same shed as the first. During 18 months, water tight bulkheads were built, a new rig installed, aluminum plating redone, electrical systems upgraded, the interior re-built along with countless upgrades.
130 million girls around the world are currently denied an education and studies show that given 12 years of education, girls can change their futures, communities and the world. Edwards defines the energy behind the mission, “At 26 years old I captained the yacht Maiden, with the first all-female crew to ever sail around the world. We were told we couldn’t do it, but we showed how sailing is a level playing field. Now, I’m making it my mission to advocate for girls’ education around the world.”
*Pandemic P.S. – As the world sailed into the doldrums in March, Maiden was hove-to in Antigua. With international borders closed and summer hurricanes looming, there was nowhere to go but home. A ship carried her to the UK for some rest and repairs. Team Maiden Factor anxiously awaits the start of the next leg of their humanitarian journey.
To learn more visit www.maidenfactor.org