How pioneering yacht Maiden overcame ‘the actual final bastion of male dominance’ and continues to empower girls


Greater than three a long time since its pioneering, round-the-world voyage, the Maiden racing yacht is once more crusing the excessive seas – and altering the lives of younger girls within the course of.

Skippered by British sailor Tracy Edwards, Maiden grew to become the primary all-female crew to sail world wide in 1990 – a landmark second for a sport that was sluggish to welcome girls into the fold.

“It’s hard to remember that people were pretty aggressive about not wanting us to race around the world,” Edwards tells CNN Sport’s Don Riddell. “It was the real last bastion of male dominance in a sport.”

The crew ended up successful two of the six legs of the Whitbread Around the World Race – now generally known as the Volvo Ocean Race – and positioned second total in its class, defying the sexist attitudes that pervaded crusing on the time.

“One of the headlines, which has to be my favorite, was: ‘Maiden is just a tin full of tarts,’” says Edwards, including that the identical journalist later referred to the crew as “a tin full of smart, fast tarts.”

Quick ahead 33 years in the past and Maiden continues to symbolize “the empowerment of women, the strength of women, and what women are capable of,” in accordance with Edwards.

Having been restored to its former glory, the yacht has been touring world wide since 2018, just lately finishing a journey from Dakar, Senegal, to Cape City, South Africa.

The goal of the tour is to lift funds and consciousness for ladies’ training, making an attempt – significantly within the creating world – to maintain them in training till they’re 18.

Making Maiden seaworthy as soon as extra was no simple feat. In 2014, Edwards was advised that the vessel had fallen into disrepair and was rotting away within the Seychelles.

That prompted the unique crew from the 1989-90 Whitbread Around the World Race to start out a fundraiser. Together with help from Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, they have been in a position to carry Maiden again to the UK and start a restoration challenge.

“The Maiden Factor” – the identify given to the not-for-profit group – types a part of the legacy of the unique crew.

Between 2021 and 2024, Maiden intends to sail 90,000 nautical miles, visiting 60 locations in additional than 40 totally different nations.

Jordan's Princess Haya bint al-Hussein (center) meets Edwards (center left) on the newly-refurbished Maiden in London on September 5, 2018.

“I’m seeing people getting to dream more and understanding that we are limitless as human beings,” says Lungi Mchunu, a member of the present Maiden crew.

“I just want them to be able to dream and know that they can try and do anything. If it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine; you keep moving, you find something that’s more suited for you.”

A South African native, Mchunu used to work as a banker and was afraid of the ocean earlier than she found crusing in 2017. Since then, she has not solely conquered her worry, however has additionally change into the primary African girl to sail to the Arctic.

“For some odd reason, I feel at home even when the waves are like five or eight meters,” says Mchunu.

“I feel the most comfortable at sea … Even when I was rescued in the Arctic, it was not scary. I was just okay, I guess … I’m getting to know a side of myself that I never knew existed.”

Mchunu’s final dream is to sail solo world wide, and Maiden – because it has with so many different girls earlier than – is empowering her to attain that objective.