The Maiden Factor Blog

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

Meet the new crew on Maiden for the Heineken!

Maiden has five guests and two milebuilders onboard for this regatta – let’s get to know them! Our guest sailors have all paid for their places on Maiden with all monies going to The Maiden Factor Foundation. The Foundation supports and work with community programmes all over the world which empower an enable girls into education.

All photographs ©The Maiden Factor/Amalia Infante

Deb Walters

I was completely captivated by the movie, “Maiden.” I related to Tracy Edward’s challenging childhood and how she broke through many perceived female barriers to achieve her dreams. 

When the Maiden was visiting Santa Barbara, CA in Oct 2019, I stood at the edge of the harbor and said to myself, “I want to sail on that boat someday.” When I was a rookie teacher I wanted to apply for the NASA Space Shuttle Teacher Program. I was inspired by Christa McAuliffe, an ordinary US civilian and Social Studies Teacher out of New Hampshire. But I never applied. So when I saw The Maiden Factor announcement- “This Could Be You” at the Maiden’s helm, I thought, “Yes! I want this to be me! Anything is possible and I will not pass up the opportunity to at least apply.” 

So I am beyond thrilled and honored to be chosen as a “wet behind the ears” amateur sailor aboard the Maiden. I definitely will be harnessing the spirit of my beloved female role models- Amelia Earhart and Christa McAuliffe. 

Marthe Robertson

I grew up sailing on the Great Lakes in Canada with my family and have been an outdoor enthusiast all my life. Have taken an outdoor educator’s course with the North American Outdoor Leadership School, participated in sea kayaking expeditions in Canada and Belize, done a number of wilderness camping trips and cruised on sailboats in Georgian Bay and the Thousand islands.

I was looking to improve my experience in ocean sailing as my husband and I plan to sail our boat from Canada to the Caribbean sometime. Joining a leg on Maiden provides the opportunity to sail with and learn from other women sailors and participate in a cause to empower women and girls globally.

April Armstrong

I am a native of the Pacific Northwest- a region with a rich maritime history and a struggling urban sea. I live aboard my 33-foot sailboat on beautiful Bainbridge Island across from Seattle. I have always been a water-enthusiast and progressed from swimming to scuba diving along the way to learning to sail. Since buying my boat, I have dedicated myself to learning to sail, race, and maintain a sailboat. I am passionate about the preservation of the sea and the study of marine invertebrates. My interests include anything that helps people understand and therefore care about water- from scuba diving to volunteering as a seal sitter.

As a female sailboat-racer I was very inspired by the Maiden story. While great progress has been made, sailboat racing is still a male-dominated sport. I believe that sailing is a wonderful way to learn independence and practical survival skills which are beneficial to all people. I am thrilled to participate in the Maiden tour in support of increasing more diverse access to sailing and the sea. Education and empowerment for women is a vital step towards a more equitable planet – something we should all strive to create and preserve.

Marie-Pierre C. Poirier

I am a French Canadian adventurer who loves challenges and discovering the world. I work as a psychiatrist in the province of Quebec and I am deeply interested in people. During my medical studies, I practiced in Nunavik and Ecuador. Those were highly rewarding human experiences. It allowed me to discover other cultures, the beauty in our differences but, overall, how there is so little that really separates us.

I was moved and inspired by the Maiden story. Gender equality was something my mother taught me as a child, but it is still a priority for which we must fight. I am convinced women can achieve anything if they believe in themselves and follow their dreams. As part of my work, I love offering support in the difficult moments of life, but perhaps even more, witnessing people’s huge potentials and successes. Maiden story is proof that one can turn obstacles into formidable victories. I highly value Maiden’s objective of challenging social norms and creating awareness of the 130 million girls worldwide who currently are not able to have an education. I believe girls’ education is a wonderful way to reduce the gender gap. It will be a great honor to race alongside strong women and to share Maiden’s message. I
look forward to many challenges, discoveries and inspiring human connections!

Summer Jean Morton

I’m 16 years old, was born in St. Maarten and I have lived here my whole life. I’ve been sailing at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club sailing school since I was eight years old. I started sailing in Optimists and when I was eleven, I started racing a two person boat, an RS Vision, at the helm and have been racing in the St. Maarten and neighbouring islands since. I am also an assistant instructor at the SMYC teaching our racing Opti sailors. At ten years old, I raced in my first Heineken Regatta and have sailed in every one since, other with my parents, on youth teams or on the KHS&S Contractors boat. I have also raced on the super yacht Adela in the St. Barths Bucket and raced in Bareboat Class for two Antigua Sailing Weeks.

I think it will be a great experience to sail on the boat that carried the first all-female team around the world 30 years ago in the Whitbread Race! My dad, Shag Morton, sailed with Tracy Edwards on Atlantic Privateer in the 85-86 Whitbread before she entered Maiden in the next one. I have grown up listening to stories of these races. I admire Tracy Edwards and everything she has done to encourage women in sailing and supporting girls’ empowerment and education through The Maiden Factor Foundation.

Elaine Smith

I am extremely motivated to learn, along with the passion for sailing, a passion learned later in life. I worked many years in the Hospitality field in upper management. Presently spend all my free time sailing and becoming more knowledgeable about sailing. I love to travel and live in a small town called Jackson, Louisiana. It is north of Baton Rouge.

I want to come onboard Maiden for the experience in sailing. I thing Maiden has a fascinating story and would be proud to be a small part of a sail. A once in a lifetime experience!

Agbeli Ameko

Agbeli Ameko is a co-founder of Ghana Ocean Racing which aims to become the first African team in The Ocean Race. Ag is working hard to build up strength and endurance capacity by participating in some of the world’s most challenging ultramarathons, ski mountaineering races and expeditions, and ocean racing. His participation in the UTMB and his planned ski expeditions marks the first ever Ghanaian/African-American participation in such endurance events. Agbeli is also an associate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

Find out more about Ag in our previous blog: https://blog.themaidenfactor.org/2020/02/26/meet-maidens-guests-onboard-the-caribbean-600/

And in Ag’s own blog post: https://blog.themaidenfactor.org/2020/02/27/stronger-winds-good-spirits-and-choppy-waves-a-blog-by-guest-sailor-agbeli-ameko/