When Tracy Edwards had the idea to enter the 1989-90 Whitbread, she was a 23-year-old charter boat cook with no crew, no sponsorship and no boat. Hardly anyone believed that she could put a team together to compete. That she managed it, and in so doing became such an inspiration, is one of the great stories of perseverance and achievement in the race's history.
No all-female team had rounded Cape Horn before but at least Edwards herself had done it, completing the 1985-86 Whitbread on board Norsk Data GB and, from Leg 2 onwards with the crew of the maxi yacht Atlantic Privateer.
She announced her entry in the spring of 1986 with no idea how difficult fulfilling the promise would turn out to be. Over 300 companies turned her down until Royal Jordanian Airlines stepped in and the Maiden project became a reality.
Out on the race track, Edwards and her crew made a mockery of predictions that they would not have the strength or the stamina to withstand the world’s most gruelling contest. Not only did they survive, they proved seriously competitive and won both the Southern Ocean legs of the race in Division D.
"It was as bad as we thought and as good as we thought; it was everything we'd hoped it would be and everything we'd dreaded it would be," said Edwards after receiving the winner's trophy for Leg 2 from Punta del Este, through the Southern Ocean to Fremantle.
The team's campaign, which was not only successful in sporting terms but also made front page news in media around the world, led to Edwards being awarded Yachtsman of the Year, a trophy never presented to a woman before.
Edwards is no working hard to get Maiden back for a special reunion on the final leg of the Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18, from Gothenburg to The Hague.
“Maiden was found in a sad state a few years ago in the Seychelles and since then I have been working very hard to get her back, restore her and get her back in her former glory again,” said Edwards.
“She will shortly be shipped back to the UK for a renovation program and our aim is the gather the original all-female crew from 1989-90 and compete in the new Legends Race 2018.”