the Maiden

Fisherman’s Wharf in Monterey is known for its narrow corridor packed with chowder hawkers, musical buskers and enticing shops. On Friday afternoon, Oct. 11, dozens of visitors pushed past the usual revelry of the wharf for what awaited at its end: the yacht known as Maiden.

Maiden and its all-female crew famously shattered the glass ceiling of yacht racing 30 years ago by dominating the Whitbread Round the World race, known to be the toughest sailing competition to circumnavigate the globe. The epic story is the subject of a recent documentary titled Maiden, which details the story of skipper Tracy Edwards and her audacious crew.

Visitors had the opportunity to tour the yacht and speak with members of the current crew about their ongoing three-year journey. Maiden was originally scheduled to head south from Los Angeles to Chile, but tropical storm Kiko interrupted the crew’s plans. Instead, they extended their time in California and headed north to Monterey.

“It’s been fantastic,” says Joseph Headley, who helped orchestrate the event through the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club. “The crew slogged up 50 hours in unkind seas to pay Monterey a visit.”

Maiden’s current trip around the world is part of a fundraising campaign through the Maiden Factor Foundation, with a mission is to raise money for various charities that empower and educate girls around the globe.

“They’re all grassroots and they’re all global in scale,” says Courtney Koos, one of the Maiden’s current full-time crewmembers. Each crewmember is the ambassador for one of the six organizations for which the foundation is currently raising money. Koos is the ambassador for the I am Girl Project, which works to promote the dignity and education of young women in East Africa.

To Koos, continuing the legacy of Maiden is a privilege not without its challenges.

“It’s very multifaceted,” she says. “At the end of the day it’s a massive responsibility that extends beyond safely getting the boat from port to port.”

In addition to the typical challenges of a global sailing expedition, Koos says there are often up to four guests that join the crew on legs of the trip. “The women that get on the boat are anywhere from 19 to 65,” she adds. “It’s an incredible age range and everyone has a different background.”

While many people visiting the boat at the wharf on Friday were fans of the documentary, some were also sailing enthusiasts, including two high school-aged friends who have been sailing for eight years. They both currently compete in different types of racing.

“I thought [the film] was really inspiring,” says one the girls, Ximena Greatorex. “I was like, ‘I do that too!’”

Sexism was a predominant theme of the documentary, and both girls say they know it was a big part of what Edwards and her crew experienced.

“I kind of had an idea about how badly they were treated,” Greatorex says. “But to actually see the real footage and hear what these interviewers had to say…”

“It’s a different feeling when you actually hear them talking,” her friend Linnea Jackson adds.

Greatorex notes that journalists at the time typically referred to Maiden’s crew as an all-girl crew, instead of an all-woman crew. “And one reporter asked [Edwards] about her makeup,” she says. “I was like, ‘this doesn’t make any sense!’”

They say their experience in sailing has been far more equitable than what was portrayed in the documentary.

“It’s even, at least on our team,” Jackson says. “We’ve never had any problems.”

She thinks the story of the Maiden made a positive impact for women outside of sailing, too.

“They proved that we can actually do this,” she says. “They started this chain reaction.”

Koos echoes that, and says the legacy of Maiden goes beyond sailing.

“I think this story is incredible, because it empowers you to realize that if you set your mind to something, you can do it,” she says. “That story is applicable in any setting. It doesn’t have to be sailing—it could be anything.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect the following correction. Based on incorrect information provided by Yacht Club members, an earlier version stated the voyage to Monterey took 20 hours; it actually took 50 hours. 

UCSC Science Communications student MCW Intern

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(1) comment

Craig Malin

Stop what you're doing and go see this movie on the biggest screen you can. It's fantastic, full of brilliant women.

My favorite scene is Angela Heath, describing the harrowing passage from Punte de Este to Freemantle. The basics of that leg of the race is those who dare greatest by sailing the most southerly route, with the most dangerous seas, have the advantage. No spoilers here, but when she describes the epic seas nearly thirty years on, her eyes light up and she says she "LOVED" it. It's the coolest, most badass bit of cinema in decades.

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