The iconic yacht Maiden has returned to the UK three years after her former skipper Tracy Edwards MBE launched an appeal to purchase and restore her (see my personal view: Why we should save Tracy Edwards’ Maiden).

Maiden made history in 1990 when Tracy Edwards and her crew became the first all-female team to compete in the Whitbread Round the World Race (now Volvo Ocean Race). In the process of completing the race, Tracy and her crew showed not only that it was possible for women to compete in the gruelling race, but that they could be competitive too. Maiden won two legs of the race and came second overall – the best result for a British boat since 1977 and a record that has never been beaten. The high profile campaign inspired a whole generation of female sailors, and the aim of her restoration is that she should continue to inspire and support women worldwide.

Tracy Edwards Maiden Photo Rick Tomlinson

Tracy Edwards' (second from left) at the helm of Maiden. The iconic yacht was unloaded in Southampton and then motored round to Hamble Yacht Services on the River Hamble. Photo Rick Tomlinson.

Tracy Edwards Maiden being unloaded in Southampton photo Rick Tomlinson.

The moment Maiden was unloaded in Southampton. Photo Rick Tomlinson.

Maiden will be restored before embarking on a global campaign to give more girls around the world access to a basic education. Maiden’s restoration and global campaign, The Maiden Factor, is being made possible by HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan in memory of Her father, King Hussein I. Tracy has worked tirelessly to bring Maiden back to the UK. Her restoration in Southampton will take a year, after which Maiden will sail again, spreading the message via a huge global campaign that every girl has potential and the right to an education. The campaign is called “The Maiden Factor”.

HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan said:
“My father, King Hussein I, would have been the first to offer his support and guidance to the new Maiden Project announced this week. I, as a young girl, fondly remember his ‘hands-on’ involvement with the original project which made sporting history, and surprisingly feel how the issues of female equality and values he championed all those years ago seem even more relevant today.

“Having the intrepid Tracy Edwards MBE back at the helm is something I know my father would have been so happy to learn and he would have wanted me to be part of this project. As his daughter, I feel honored and humbled to be involved with the resurrection of the Maiden project as it embarks on its new chapter of maritime history. The knowledge that Maiden will once again travel the seas, means not only will the memory and legacy of my late father live on but we can all use this a platform to highlight the need of equal access to education for girls in all corners of the globe, referencing something that he always believed in: ‘anything is possible’.”

Crowds turn out to greet Tracy Edwards and her crew as they finish the race in Southampton in 1990. Photo Andrew Sassoli-Parker.

Crowds turn out to greet Tracy Edwards and her crew as they finish the race in Southampton in 1990. Photo Andrew Sassoli-Parker.

Tracy Edwards MBE said: “It’s shocking to me that over 61 million girls around the world are still denied one of the most basic rights; access to education. The struggle to get Maiden to the start line represents the barriers faced by so many, whilst also proving to the world that girls can overcome them, and achieve great things.

“The crew of Maiden faced many obstacles and prejudices. Very few people believed an all-female crew could complete the race and not only did we prove everyone wrong, we won two legs and came second overall. Now we would like to do the same for women around the world, who are being denied an education and the opportunity to reach their full potential.

“To have support from HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein of Jordan in honour of Her father is incredibly special as I know that without HM King Hussein I, Maiden would not have happened.”

The Maiden Factor’s vision is to enable girls around the world to fulfil their potential through education. The project will continue the legacy of Maiden’s creators and supporters to promote, lobby and fundraise for better access to education for girls. The Maiden Factor will use funds raised to support charities that are working to empower, teach or mentor girls and that promote, facilitate, lobby for or provide solutions which enable the education of girls not currently afforded that basic human right.

Written by: Gael Pawson
Gael Pawson is the editor of Yachts & Yachting Magazine and the founder of Creating Waves. A keen racer, she has sailed all her life, and started writing about the subject whilst studying journalism at university. Dinghies and small keelboats are her first loves, but she has cruised and raced a huge variety of boats in locations across the world.