Maiden is a Global Ambassador for the Empowerment of Girls through Education
When I was growing up, I had a vague knowledge that my Mum had done something – with a boat called Maiden! As I got older, I began to appreciate some of what the crew of Maiden had achieved but not really fully comprehending the far-reaching consequences. For the life of me I could not understand my Mum’s obsession with wanting me to learn to sail! But I didn’t have much choice in the matter and so initially learned to sail an Opti when I was five and in my early teens was ‘made’ to attend the Newport Yacht Club sailing school. I spent many happy summers in Newport, Rhode Island staying with Mum’s sailing friends. This was not one of them!
Anyway, that was ticked off the list and life moved on. And then in 2015 Mum found Maiden rotting in the Seychelles and my life would never be the same again! She raised the money to rescue her and bring her back to the UK with the help of HRH Princess Haya (King Hussein, her father, had been a friend of Mum’s and had helped fund Maiden in 1989). I left school in June 2018 and, having decided not to got to University, went to work for The Maiden Factor, which had been set up to run Maiden and her world tour.
Initially I did the photography for some Maiden events, and then worked for Alex Roberts, Head of Events and absolutely loved it. When Alex left, I took over running the events as I had learned so much from Alex. Travelling to all the stopovers and working with such an amazing team was just brilliant and I have learned so much. Spending so much time around the crew, these feisty, strong women, are so inspiring and my self-belief and confidence has grown and grown.
“To say that I was surprised when Mack said she was going to sail a leg on Maiden would be an understatement! …I knew it would be the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle in her Maiden journey.Tracy Edwards MBE
I guess it was inevitable that they would try and persuade me to get on Maiden for a leg – or two! I was finally talked into it and got onto ‘Mum’s first born’ (as I call Maiden) to join legendary Skipper Wendy Tuck and the crew for the leg from Vancouver to Seattle. The Vancouver stopover had been so productive and enjoyable but I was more than a little apprehensive to actually get on the boat for an overnight sail to Seattle. Initially it felt strange being on board a boat I have been so close to for so long. We had our first meal just after leaving, which was one of Wendo’s tasty lasagnes, and then everyone fell into the watch system.
I joined the first watch with Milebuilders Jessica and Ariel and crew members Belle and Erica and we motor sailed for the first few miles as there wasn’t much wind. It was so interesting watching the crew deftly handle the boat and moving around the deck with such knowledge. I didn’t tell Mum but none of my sailing lessons kicked in! I felt as if I was learning from scratch but I really did enjoy myself and learned loads! When I went off watch and crawled into my bunk the wind picked up and the sea was choppy apparently – but I missed that bit. When I awoke the next morning, the fog was so thick we couldn’t see the land we knew was there and that is how we sailed into Seattle.
I had completed my first leg on Maiden and I felt very proud of myself for doing so. I was so inspired by watching the crew work together and being with a group of women who are so confident in themselves. Everyone looked out for everyone else and I had a real sense of how sailing can make you feel so included and together and powerful.
To my Mum’s surprise I then decided to sail from LA to Monterey and then back to LA stopping in at Santa Barbara. At one point we rounded a headland during the night and the seas became huge; there was driving rain, it was freezing cold and I suddenly found myself steering. I remember thinking ‘How the hell did this happen?!’ But I dealt with it. I had total confidence in the capabilities of the crew and I knew whilst I was with them, I would be safe. They all instilled so much confidence in me, Wendo especially was such an amazing mentor and teacher.
Spending so much time around the crew, these feisty, strong women, are so inspiring and my self-belief and confidence has grown and grown.
The experience of being a team member on the Maiden World Tour has just been amazing. Learning so much about the benefits of an education for all girls everywhere, has changed my life and opened my eyes. I was lucky enough to have been given a great education and to understand how many girls are denied this human right is a powerful force driving us on. The reaction that the crowds of people at each stopover have to Maiden has been overwhelming and I understand now what the crew of Maiden really achieved when they became the first all-female crew to sail around the world. They changed everything in women’s sport and made it possible for every girl to dare to dream of greatness. Maiden is the living, visual proof of that achievement.
We are, as everyone else in the world is, affected by this dreadful virus and for the moment Maiden rests in Southampton, the crew are at home in their various countries and we, the Shore Team are all working from home. We are fundraising so that we can resume the tour when it is safe to do so and I cannot wait to get going again. To be with Maiden and the crew and working with communities around the world who enable girls into education and empower and support them to remain throughout their teenage years is a privilege. This is not just a job; this is a mission and a passion.
“To say that I was surprised when Mack said she was going to sail a leg on Maiden would be an understatement! Belle had asked me if it was OK to try and persuade her but I held little hope. I was so thrilled when she decided to go. I knew it would be the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle in her Maiden journey. When Mack told me she had really enjoyed the experience it just made me so happy. I felt as if I had given her a gift, a life opportunity and as any parent knows that feels pretty great! Long may it continue. I am so proud of my daughter.” – Tracy Edwards MBE