The Whitbread Round the World yacht, Maiden, is expected to leave the Seychelles on 26 March for the UK

24 March 2017

Maiden, which carried the first all-female crew to ever sail around the world, across the finish line of the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race, is heading back to the UK on Sunday (26 March).

The 58-foot yacht has been languishing in the Seychelles, where the iconic vessel has been sadly neglected.

Now in a new cradle, Maiden is waiting for the arrival of the ship that will take her home.

Maiden in disrepair. Tracy Edwards looks her over

Tracy Edwards sees Maiden for the first time in 27 years. Credit: The Maiden Factor

Once restored to her former glory, the yacht will be used to inspire women to take up sailing and challenge the perception of what women are capable of.

Maiden will become an “ambassador” for the not-for profit organisation, The Maiden Factor, which will work with charities such as I am Girl, Just a Drop, Girl Up and The Girl’s Network.

10 Most iconic young sailors in the history of the Volvo Ocean Race

In 1990, a 27-year-old Edwards made the history books when her 12 crew on board Maiden defied the critics by winning two legs and finishing second in its class in the Whitbread Round the World Race (now Volvo Ocean Race).

This is the best performances in the race by a British boat since 1977.

Tracy Edwards and her all female crew on Maiden during the Whitbread

Maiden and her all-female crew. Credit: PPL

According to The Maiden Factor blog, which keeps fans updated on the iconic yacht, Edwards had to remortgaged her house to buy Maiden for £110,000.

Called Prestige then, the former round the world competitor yacht was languishing in Cape Town’s commercial docks.

Edwards then had to re-mortgage Maiden to pay for the refit, and almost faced ruin until a former charter client, King Hussein of Jordan, stepped in to help.

Following the race, Maiden had to be sold to pay off debts, and went through a series of owners before being abandoned to rot in the Seychelles.

Edwards has spent three years raising funds to bring Maiden Home, and flew out in January to the Indian Ocean island to see the yacht again.

As recorded on the Maiden Factor blog, Edwards cried when she saw the battered yacht for the first time in 27 years.

“My poor baby, she’s such a mess,” she said.

“I had no idea she was in such bad shape. It is such a sad and gruesome sight. We have to get her home and fast.”

Battered rail of the yacht, Maiden, abandoned in the Seychelles, Indian Ocean

Just some of the work which needs to be done on Maiden. Credit: The Maiden Factor

“I’d heard she was in a poor state but not this bad,” she adds. “I’ve been raising funds to bring her home for the last three years but it stopped me almost dead when I saw her,” continued Edwards.

“There was a physical pain in my heart at the sight. I guess it must have been building up. I didn’t think it would be this emotional. I cried, tears of delight at seeing her after so long but also distress at what she has become,” explained the Whitbread skipper.

“The boat was the 13th member of the crew and she looked after us, made sure we got home safely so the bond is immense. She is like an old friend and it is distressing to see this neglect. When I first heard she’d been abandoned I was surprised how heartbroken I was. It was like losing a member of the family,” stated Edwards.

“But we can rebuild her. She is like me, a fighter and a survivor,” she added.

 

25 November 2016

Work to restore the iconic Whitbread Round the World yacht, Maiden, will begin in the coming months, with the vessel expected to sail into London in September.

The announcement from the Jordan Tourism Board comes following a renewed partnership between The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Maiden’s skipper, Tracy Edwards MBE.

In 1990, Edwards made the history books by leading the first all-female crew to the finish line of the Whitbread Round the World Race (now the Volvo Ocean Race) on board Maiden, which was sponsored by the Jordanian Royal family.

Her 12 crew on board Maiden defied the critics by winning two legs and finishing second in its class, the best performances in the race by a British boat since 1977.

The 58-foot yacht was recently discovered by Edwards falling into disrepair in the Indian Ocean.

Backed by the Jordan Tourism Board, and through a combination of crowdfunding and sponsorship, work to restore Maiden to its former glory is expected to begin shortly.

The yacht will then be used to carry on the legacy started in the 1980s by Edwards – to inspire women to take up sailing and challenge the perception of what women are capable of.

Maiden will become an “ambassador” for the not-for profit organisation, The Maiden Factor, which will work with charities such as I am Girl, Just a Drop, Girl Up and The Girl’s Network.

The yacht will sail the globe promoting the agenda of education for girls and raise funds for these associated charities as well as Maiden Education.

Tracy Edwards

Tracy Edwards defied the critics when she entered an all-female crew in the 89-90 Whitbread Round the World Race

Commenting on the project, Edwards said: “Maiden is an inspiration and I want her to engage with people all over the world.”

“She is an icon of female empowerment, the ability and will to succeed against all odds and that’s something I want to harness and use to inspire young girls everywhere to achieve their full potential,” she stressed.

Filming has begun for a one off TV series which will follow the rescue and restoration of Maiden and also the selection and training of a new crew.

The original Maiden crew from 1989/90 will deliver the “grand dame of sailing” to London in September 2017 for her re-launch.

Celebrations will include sailing under Tower Bridge and handing Maiden over to her new crew.

Crew trials will test sailing skills on the water in the UK and in Jordan.

There is also filming already underway to accompany a documentary about Maiden’s completion of the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race which will be aired on prime-time television and have a premiere in Leicester Square in time for Maiden’s reveal in London in September 2017.

Following the London film premiere, Maiden will attend the start of the 2017/18 Volvo Ocean Race in Alicante. The yacht will then sail to Jordan for the winter.

Edwards said she was delighted that the Kingdom of Jordan had, once again, shown their support for women and sailing.

“We must ensure that the basic human right of every girl is to have an education, a conviction shared by His Majesty King Hussein of Jordan, who was the first person help me on my initial quest to get an all-female crew to sail around the world,” she said.

“It would be an understatement to say that I was delighted that the Kingdom of Jordan under the reign of his son, His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan, has stepped in to help me on my new mission to inspire a whole new generation and make Maiden a vessel for peace and education across the world,” added Edwards, who is now a motivational speaker.

 

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