The 58-foot sailing yacht Maiden has returned to the UK after a 27-year hiatus. Her former skipper, Tracy Edwards MBE (Member of the British Empire), met the yacht when she arrived, full of emotion. Edwards and Maiden have quite a history together.
In 1989, Edwards and 11 other women accomplished a first in the Whitbread Round the World Race (WRTWR), now known as the Volvo Ocean Race. As the women sought sponsors in the face of skepticism, Edwards hunted and hunted for the vessel that could make her dream come true. She eventually found it: a disheveled sailing yacht named Prestige. The yacht had competed in the 1985-86 WRTWR under the name Stabilo Boss. Edwards mortgaged her home to purchase the vessel and transported her to the UK where she was refit and renamed Maiden.
Maiden’s hull was painted grey, with gold and red lines, like the colors on a Royal Jordanian Airlines plane, Jordan’s flagship airline and Maiden’s sponsor. This sponsorship was ultimately from Edwards’ close friend, Jordan’s King Hussain I. Edwards would say it was only with his funding and friendship that the WRTWR’s first all-female crew were able to compete.
On September 2, 1989, Edwards and her crew set sail from Southampton, on the first leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race, destination Uruguay. The women completed the race’s 5 legs, won 2 of those legs in their class and successfully sailed back into Southampton in May of 1990, coming in 2nd place overall in their class. They’d accomplished their goal and shocked the sailing world.
After the WRTWR, Maiden was sold. Now, 27 years later, the yacht was discovered abandoned in Mahé, Seychelles. She was repurchased in 2016 through fundraising and, in April of 2017, has returned to Southampton. Maiden was joyously met by Edwards and other 1989 crewmembers, who had been awaiting her return.
She will undergo restoration at the Universal Marina, Sarisbury Green, Southampton in preparation for a big future: The Maiden Factor is a charity initiative to promote education for girls around the world. And Jordan is once again partnering with Maiden; in honor of her father, King Hussain I, Princess Haya Bint Al Hussain is supporting The Maiden Factor project. Maiden will set sail in August 2018 on her world tour to promote girls’ education. September and October are slated to visit Jordan and Dubai, with the following months’ locations are yet to be announced. Edwards and Maiden now have a chance to continue their round-the-world journey they started almost 28 years ago.