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

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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 grew to become the primary all-female crew to sail around the globe in 1990 – a landmark second for a sport that was gradual to welcome girls into the fold.

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

The crew ended up successful 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 needs to be my favourite, was: ‘Maiden is only a tin filled with tarts,’” says Edwards, including that the identical journalist later referred to the crew as “a tin filled 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 signify “the empowerment of ladies, the energy of ladies, and what girls are able to,” in response to Edwards.

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

The purpose of the tour is to lift funds and consciousness for ladies’ training, making an attempt – notably within the creating world – to maintain them in training till they’re 18.

Making Maiden seaworthy as soon as extra was no straightforward feat. In 2014, Edwards was advised 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 assist from Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein, the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan, they had been capable of carry Maiden again to the UK and start a restoration venture.

“The Maiden Issue” – the identify given to the not-for-profit group – kinds 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 completely different international locations.

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’ll try to do something. If it doesn’t give you the results you want, that’s high quality; you retain transferring, you discover one thing that’s extra fitted to you.”

A South African native, Mchunu used to work as a banker and was petrified of the ocean earlier than she found crusing in 2017. Since then, she has not solely conquered her concern, however has additionally turn out to be the primary African girl to sail to the Arctic.

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

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

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


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