Give it up for the woman who sailed her way to women’s liberty on the high seas

Women should be forever grateful that Tracy Edwards sailed the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, and led an all-female crew on their sailboat-the Maiden. This event gave women their rights as sailors, and I have a sister and mother who are both sailors. They, too, should appreciate all the bravery and heart this woman put in herself and her crew.

“Maiden,” written/produced/directed by Alex Holmes, is a courageous documentary about Tracy Edwards and her passion in life. Women sailing should be a topic, because of how she changed the gender rules of it, and that is heroic. At times, the movie does lag a bit, and made me lose track of all the people she’s involved with, but it shows us the challenges, risks, and determination that goes on in the race.

We meet Tracy when she admits her happy childhood was damaged by the death of her father, thus leading her to being expelled from school and running away to become a cook on charter boats. Ergo, she discovers her new calling in life-sailing.

She would love to get involved with the world race, as a sailor, cook, or assistant; but she gets ridiculed because she’s a woman. So, she makes the ultimate decision to find a female team, buy a yacht, and compete in the race for their own liberty on sea.

Her crew includes Mandi Swan, Mikaela Von Koskull, Claire Warren, Michele Paret, Tanja Visser, Sally Creaser, and Jeni Mundy. And there are also male reporters, who are just as stunned as the other rival sailors about how the women were able to survive the high seas. This was a powerful fight against cynicism.

What I’m really amazed at are the challenges of being out on that boat from days to months in different weather conditions during the races. Some are sunny, some are freezing cold, and some have no wind at all, but this whole adventure must be completed.

The journey from Uruguay to Australia, for instance, was horrible for the competitors, because of the freezing conditions that ultimately kills a sailor on another team, after being tossed overboard. I can’t imagine anyone sailing in this kind of weather, and seeing the Maiden crew battle it is really exciting, sad, and touching.

No matter the outcome, Edwards kept on pushing to the very end, and as a result, she became the first woman to win the Yachtsman of the Year award. Director Alex Holmes allows her to tell her own story without any glamorization or fabrications. She tells it as it was, how it should be, and her crew acknowledges her strong-will and pacing.

Women have earned their rights to vote, play tennis, become businesswomen, and so forth; and sailing is a no-brainer for them. Again, female sailors should thank Edwards for making their sea world a better place.


Categories: Documentary, Sport

1 reply

  1. Well done review Chris – could not agree more, especially the way the attitudes of the British male reporters changed their tune and began respecting the “lady sailors” !

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