Last Friday, as a group of media was readying for a day sail on board Maiden, I met Tracy Edwards. I felt something deeper than star stuck; it stirred a deep inspiration from within to make the impossible happen.
Tracy Edwards and the vessel Maiden are legendary in the sport of sailing.
Maiden is a Farr 58-foot ocean racing yacht built in 1979. Edwards bought the yacht in 1987 to compete in the 1989–90 Whitbread Round the World Race with an all-female crew. The yacht achieved unfathomable results by taking second overall, leading to Edwards becoming the first female winner of the Yachtsman of the Year Trophy, something that changed the perception of women in ocean racing.
Maiden was sold after the race, and had several subsequent owners. The last of these abandoned her in the Seychelles and she was brought back to England by Edwards in 2017 after a fundraising drive.
After a major refit, the boat set off on a global voyage last year to raise money and awareness for girls' education under the foundation "The Maiden Factor."
Maiden arrived earlier this month in Los Angeles and last week Long Beach YC hosted a public presentation with the current crew members. If you missed that, there are two more opportunities for you to get your Maiden fix:
• On Thursday, Sept. 12, (today) there will be an outdoor public screening of ‘Maiden’ at Burton Chace Park in LA at 6 p.m.
• On Saturday, Sept. 14, the Maiden factor folks will be hosting an open house at California YC on board Maiden from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The club is in Marina Del Rey, at 4469 Admiralty Way.
The yacht has been completely reconfigured below deck with two heads, water tight doors and additional berths — no hot bunking for this world tour. Topside the only major change is now the emergency life rafts are stowed on the aft deck.
For our day sail, Skipper Wendy Tuck started the morning with the most comprehensive safety orientation I have ever witnessed. Tuck, in 2018, was the first woman to win a round the world race. She rocked her pink pedicure that matched the yacht’s helm.
Belinda Henry hoisted the jib, and her form was poetry in motion. She has been on Maiden for 14 months, and after the grueling hoist, she managed to switch to hostess mode by offering a tray of fruit to the guests on board.
Amalia Infante seems to sail intuitively, and has a knack for anticipating the skipper’s wishes as much as reading the wind. She is a gifted photographer and her images taken at sea are extraordinary. Courtney Koos, the only American on board, serves as the engineer.
The back story on how Maiden came to pass resonates with me.
Edwards was a stewardess on a charter boat, and during a stop in Martha’s Vineyard she met King Hussein of Jordan, who told her, “With faith, honor, and courage, anything is possible.” His words, followed up with his mentorship and financial sponsorship, served as a catalyst for Edwards.
About that same time, in November 1981, I had my own King Hussein moment. He was on an official visit to Los Angeles and had announced he would talk to local Ham radio operators via two meters. I drove to the top of Signal Hill where I hoped my radio signal would be received clearer, and did my best to be heard.
Maybe because of my female voice, or my call sign KA6HNH, I was fortunate to experience a brief QSO (conversation) before the evil jammers ended the conversation. Just that brief moment with a visionary world leader gave me an inspirational connection with him.
Soon after, I started my career at Boeing working on satellites. You can imagine last year during the launch of the first Jordanian mini satellite JY1, named after His Majesty’s radio call sign, how thrilled I was.
I so agree with Maiden’s message was that women didn’t have to become men to be good at things.