Maiden night

Wendy Tuck, skipper of Maiden, and her crew have shared insights from the first leg on the their global journey of inspiration and education.

Written by Scott Alle
Photography by ©The Maiden Factor / CYCA

An audience packed with sailors and adventurers crammed into the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia last night to hear highlights of Maiden’s 4,000 nautical mile leg from Columbo to Sri Lanka.

Maiden, skippered by Tracy Edwards, was the first yacht with an all-female crew to compete in Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989. After being left to rot by a succession of owners, she was re-purchased by Tracy and is now on a three-year circumnavigation to raise money and awareness for girls’ access to education in a campaign called The Maiden Factor.

Wendy Tuck or ‘Wendo’, Australia’s trail-blazing female ocean racer, is guest skipper on several legs, including the most recent, from Fremantle into Sydney, then on to Auckland.

The audience heard Maiden’s extensive re-build has bequeathed a few niggling mechanical problems, the most serious resulting in a worrying amount of smoke coming from the engine about 50 miles from Fremantle.

While the boat’s engineer Courtney Koos calmly dealt with the emergency, grab bags were handed to the crew on deck – just in case.

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Wendy recalls despite the apparent seriousness of the situation, there was no panic.

“The crew just went to work and sorted it out”, she recounts. “At that moment I was extremely proud of them.”

That’s a big accolade, given Tuck’s standing in international yachting circles – the first woman to win an around-the-world yacht race, and two laps of the planet as a skipper, though you wouldn’t know it by her egalitarian, relaxed manner.

It was a warm reception for Wendy in her home port, and an enthusiastic response to Maiden’s positive message of equal opportunity to realise girls’ potential – in sailing and in life.

One of the big hits so far, is the boat’s “hand print” spinnaker, on which school children can trace their hands, and leave a personal message, which many have done.

Already one guest crew member from the Columbo to Fremantle leg, Ayesha Lobo is turning the goodwill generated by Maiden’s visit into greater participation in sailing by local schools back in India.

Maiden will set sail for Auckland tomorrow from the CYCA.

themaidenfactor.org