By Cheryl Costello
A piece of modern sailing history will be on display on the Bay this month. The 58-foot racing yacht Maiden and her skipper are making their way up the U.S. East Coast right now on a world tour.
Maiden was the first Whitbread Round the World Race boat to carry an all-female crew. Skipper Tracy Edwards is now leading a new crew on a mission to show young girls they can break through any conventional barrier.
We caught up with the Maiden crew in Charleston, S.C., where they’re waiting to set sail for the next leg of their tour—Annapolis.
On a FaceTime call, Maiden Factor Community Coordinator Louise Brown showed off the gleaming hull of the 1979 racing yacht. In 1989-1990, Edwards skippered the 58-footer in the race.
She had to fight just to get the spot. “She wasn’t accepted as a sailor being a woman on a crew. All she was ever going to get to do on a boat was being a cook. And she had actually done the race as a cook,” says Brown.
Then Edwards found a sponsor who believed in her. “They had so little money and then King Hussein [of Jordan] stepped in and sponsored, with his airlines, Jordanian Airlines,” Brown explains.
Maiden’s hull bears a quote from Hussein: “With Faith, Honour, and Courage, Anything is Possible.”
Edwards assembled a 12-person crew of all women, racing for seven months, sailing nearly 33,000 miles. The story was featured in a documentary after Edwards won two of the toughest legs on the course and came in second overall.
Then, the triumphant sailing yacht slipped into obscurity. “After the race, it was sold because what Tracy had done was she mortgaged her flat to buy the boat and then she mortgaged the boat to do the refit. So the only way she could pay everything back was to sell the boat.”
Maiden ended up in a marina in the Seychelles in Africa, “basically left to rot,” says Brown.
But Edwards and her daughter raised money and brought Maiden back to life in 2016. It was relaunched and began to travel the world in 2018, this time with a new crew as a charity known as the Maiden Factor.
“All of us on board hope to deliver the message that it’s very possible for girls to be in the industry and have these positions,” says crew member Marie Ostrand.
“I hope they walk away believing in themselves a little bit more and believing that they are good enough and can do what they want to do,” says Brown.
Maiden will arrive at City Dock in Annapolis at 11 a.m. on May 17, when the crew will have schools and other organizations come to visit. Track Maiden and learn more about the Maiden Factor at themaidenfactor.org.