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How pioneering yacht Maiden overcame ‘the real last bastion of male dominance’ and continues to empower women


Greater than three many years since its pioneering, round-the-world voyage, the Maiden racing yacht is once more crusing the excessive seas – and altering the lives of younger girls within the course of.

Skippered by British sailor Tracy Edwards, Maiden turned the primary all-female crew to sail world wide in 1990 – a landmark second for a sport that was gradual to welcome girls into the fold.

“It’s exhausting to keep in mind that folks have been fairly aggressive about not wanting us to race world wide,” Edwards tells CNN Sport’s Don Riddell. “It was the true final bastion of male dominance in a sport.”

The crew ended up profitable two of the six legs of the Whitbread Around the World Race – now generally known as the Volvo Ocean Race – and positioned second total in its class, defying the sexist attitudes that pervaded crusing on the time.

“One of many headlines, which must be my favourite, was: ‘Maiden is only a tin stuffed with tarts,’” says Edwards, including that the identical journalist later referred to the crew as “a tin stuffed with sensible, quick tarts.”

Edwards (front and center) celebrates onboard Maiden during the 1989-1990 Whitbread Round the World Race.

Quick ahead 33 years in the past and Maiden continues to symbolize “the empowerment of girls, the power of girls, and what girls are able to,” in response to Edwards.

Having been restored to its former glory, the yacht has been touring world wide since 2018, just lately finishing a journey from Dakar, Senegal, to Cape City, South Africa.

The goal of the tour is to lift funds and consciousness for women’ schooling, attempting – notably within the creating world – to maintain them in schooling till they’re 18.

Making Maiden seaworthy as soon as extra was no straightforward feat. In 2014, Edwards was instructed that the vessel had fallen into disrepair and was rotting away within the Seychelles.

That prompted the unique crew from the 1989-90 Whitbread Around the World Race to start out a fundraiser. Together with help from Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, they have been in a position to deliver Maiden again to the UK and start a restoration venture.

“The Maiden Issue” – the identify given to the not-for-profit group – varieties a part of the legacy of the unique crew.

Between 2021 and 2024, Maiden intends to sail 90,000 nautical miles, visiting 60 locations in additional than 40 totally different nations.

Jordan's Princess Haya bint al-Hussein (center) meets Edwards (center left) on the newly-refurbished Maiden in London on September 5, 2018.

“I’m seeing folks attending to dream extra and understanding that we’re limitless as human beings,” says Lungi Mchunu, a member of the present Maiden crew.

“I simply need them to have the ability to dream and know that they will try to do something. If it doesn’t be just right for you, that’s high quality; you retain transferring, you discover one thing that’s extra suited to you.”

A South African native, Mchunu used to work as a banker and was afraid of the ocean earlier than she found crusing in 2017. Since then, she has not solely conquered her worry, however has additionally develop into the primary African lady to sail to the Arctic.

“For some odd purpose, I really feel at house even when the waves are like 5 or eight meters,” says Mchunu.

“I really feel essentially the most comfy at sea … Even once I was rescued within the Arctic, it was not scary. I used to be simply okay, I suppose … I’m attending to know a facet of myself that I by no means knew existed.”

Mchunu’s final dream is to sail solo world wide, and Maiden – because it has with so many different girls earlier than – is empowering her to attain that purpose.

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