The Maiden Factor Blog

Maiden is a Global Ambassador for the Empowerment of Girls through Education

Meet Maiden’s Milebuilders!

We also have three new milebuilders onboard Maiden from Sydney to Auckland. Let’s get to know them!

Sharon Ferris Choat stands at Maiden's helm. Behind her and to the left is Kate, then Alex, then Alison. They are all wearing red t-shirts and coats.


Kate (or Mrs G to her school children) is passionate about sailing and passionate about education, the education of girls in particular. She is Deputy Head teacher at St Swithun’s Prep School, Winchester. A school with the values of Grit, Gratitude and Generosity and which embraces all that the Maiden Factor stands so much so that is has chosen the Maiden Factor as it’s charity of the year. There are ‘messages of hope’ from her girls on board and their hand prints are on the spinnaker!

Kate sits next to the grinder, smiling. She wears a red jacket.

It was at university that Kate first set foot on a yacht and subsequently became a sailing enthusiast! Kate had sailed a variety of boats and in recent years has developed a particular interest in offshore racing. She holders her day skipper qualifications, has sailed over 6,000nm and has completed a number of RORC offshore seasons, including a highly successful 2017 Fastnet Campaign. She also holds her powerboating and PADI Advance Open Water diving qualifications.

As a teacher she has been fortunate enough to be able to combine both of her passions and knowing the challenges that sailing offers, and wanting the girls she teaches to benefit from these, she set up the highly successful ‘St Swithun’s Sailing Club.’

Sydney holds a special place in her heart and she has always wanted to visit New Zealand so joining the Maiden team on this leg is a dream come true. She is also looking forward to being reunited with the school bear ‘Swithy’ who has been on the World Tour since its departure from Hamble last November.


Alison, 35, originally from Wisconsin, USA, has grown up racing both dinghy and keelboats on Lake Michigan. There, she sailed multiple Chicago-Mackinac races, Queen’s Cups, and other offshore races. She was alsoinvolved in college sailing at the University of Minnesota. Alison moved to Auckland, New Zealand after graduating university and works as a sailmaker at Doyle Sails.

Alison stands at the grinder, with both hands on either side. She had sunglasses on her head and is smiling. She wears a red Maiden jacket with a red polo underneath. Her hair is down.

Her sailing in New Zealand has taken her all over the world -she is bow on the New Zealand Women’s Match Race Team, trims main on a local sport boat, completed a Sydney-Hobart and Hamilton Island Race Week. She also enjoys teaching the local Green Fleet Optis! Alison is delighted to be a part of the Maiden Factor – not only in the sailing sense – but to be involved in making a difference for girls around the world.

She thinks that supporting education; promoting and empowering women and girls and sailing around the world is the most exciting combination of fulfilling exercises there is!


Alex, 34, a French national and permanent resident in New Zealand, discovered sailing at 8 years old and has not stopped sailing since.
At 18 she became a dinghy instructor but after several years teaching realised she wanted more; sailing was her life’s real passion. She attended the French National Sailing School in Quiberon and graduated as a sailing coach and able to run a sailing school. She then joined the main Sailing Association in France –les Glenans –where they gave her great development opportunities. From Coastal Cruising teach to Manager of two sailing schools.

Alex stands at the front on Maiden, holding one of the lines. She is wearing a red Maiden jacket and polo. Her necklace hangs on her polo. She is laughing and looking happy.

After sailing for many years in Brittany, Alex decided to go to Australia, to improve my English and hopefully pick up some work. She did some yacht deliveries and then moved to New Zealand to create a summer camp for children and had the opportunity to work on board R T Tucker Thompson (association dedicated to the youth of Northland) sailing with teenagers while having the chance to learn Tall Ship sailing.

Alex obtained her NZ Skipper ticket in 2017 and then worked on her boat and sailed the coast of Australia for 6 months. In September 2018 she met Sharron Ferris-Choat and did a few races over Magnectic Island with an all-female crewas a trial for crossing the Tasman Sea. She was looking for a new challenge and more opportunities to improve her knowledge in Ocean sailing and believes that she can do this on Maiden with the added benefit of sharing the philosophy regarding the empowerment of women and girls around the world.