#MaidenInspires – Carol Dawson
I grew up sailing a 27 footer with my family, but my passion for the Whitbread started when I was about 16 and read Clare Francis’ account of her race on ADC Accutrack (now sailing as Translated 9) during my lunch breaks in the family sailloft. By the age of 18 I was sailing as bosun on Francis Drake the 72 foot Ocean Youth Trust boat and dreaming of sailing the Atlantic, so when I heard about Tracy Edwards and Maiden I applied. I was excited by the idea of an all girl crew having experienced so many closed doors myself. Sadly, it wasn’t long before a rejection letter arrived. The truth was I just didn’t have enough experience. The following year (1989) I encountered Maiden in Antigua after they had won the Route of Discovery Race and with 2 transatlantics under my belt I was lucky to be offered a place as delivery crew for the trip to Ft Lauderdale. I loved everything about the 6 day-trip but one thing was clear to me, at only 19 I just didn’t feel mature enough to take on 8 months racing, Maiden’s success meant more to me than actively being part of it and I was worried I’d be the weak link. Instead I watched with huge pride and admiration as the crew did an amazing job and made history.
Many years have passed and I am now living in Hampshire with my two children. I got involved in Scouting when my own children joined the organisation – it has such a positive influence in the lives of young people. I had been involved in outdoor education and personal development previously so this was a very natural step. When Maiden has been in Hamble at different times I have pointed her out to our Sea Scouts as we went out for our Thursday night training sessions. It’s always hard to try to explain just why she is so special! With the Ocean Globe approaching I suddenly realised that being neighbours we might be able to visit, let the boat and crew tell their own story, and inspire the next generation. Introducing our young people to Maiden was a real privilege as it has not only shown them another aspect of boating but engaged them with the Maiden message. Around half our Scouts are girls and for them equality in Scouting is business as usual. So for them to speak to someone like Najiba from Afghanistan, where girls aren’t even able to attend school, and see her taking on a challenge like this is truly inspirational.
Returning to Maiden was great and sharing it with my Sea Scouts and daughter made it even better. Another highlight was meeting Junella who is from the same village in Antigua that I lived in. In the 6 years I was based there, I didn’t know any Antiguan girls working on boats, so it is fantastic to see times are changing and I am certain Junella is an inspirational role model for future generations. The crew and Maiden story are definitely inspirational. We are having updates at our weekly meetings. Who knows we may have new crew members for you in a couple of years.