Some 27 years after setting sail on the Whitbread Round the World race with the first all female crew, Tracy Edwards has brought the maxi Maiden home with a big new project in mind

A moment of history was revisited on the banks of the River Hamble in April when the Whitbread maxi Maiden returned home. It was from here she set off on the round the world race in 1989 with skipper Tracy Edwards and an all-female crew.

The 58ft maxi went on to win two legs and finish 2nd overall in the race and when Edwards and her crew sailed back into the Solent to the finish in May 1990 –  as on previous legs they were dressed in swimsuits – their arrival made headlines.

Almost 28 years on, the yacht has changed hands several times and ended up abandoned in the Seychelles, where Edwards tracked her down in 2014. Edwards has worked since then to raise the funds to bring Maiden back to the UK for restoration.

The yacht arrived in Southampton by ship and was towed round to Hamble Yacht Services where she will be undergoing an extensive refit before being relaunched in time to take part in the Volvo Ocean Race Legends regatta. This celebrates yachts that have featured in the Whitbread/Volvo since 1973 and will run over the same course as the last leg of the race from Gothenburg to The Hague in June next year.

Maiden is in very poor condition, lacking a mast and most serviceable deck fittings. Down below is even worse, says Edwards. “She’s a bit sad – it looks like she’s been vandalised.”

But after her year-long refit and the Legends Regatta, she will go on to a new mission in keeping with her original role of empowering women. “She will do a three-year world tour to raise funds and raise awareness for women’s education in developing countries. Something that Maiden stood for was enabling girls doing what they are capable of doing.

Maiden craned off the ship she was transported home on at Southampton docks


“We were a motley bunch but we came together because we were given an opportunity and we had lots of help, people telling us we could do it, and that’s what we want for every girl, in every country that doesn’t have an education yet.”

The funding for the project, which is called The Maiden Factor, has come from Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, daughter of King Hussein of Jordan, the original backer of Maiden and, recalls Tracy, “the only person who stepped in to make Maiden happen.”