Legendary sailor Tracy Edwards and her historic yacht Maiden have arrived in Brooklyn

She's on a world tour to raise funds for girls' education

June 3, 2022 Mary Frost
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Celebrated sailor Tracy Edwards and her racing yacht Maiden arrived in Brooklyn on Wednesday, greeted by an armada that included a FDNY fireboat pumping celebratory jets of water into the air as she passed the Statue of Liberty.

Edwards led the first all-female sailing team to compete in the grueling, 33,000-mile Whitbread Round the World Race (now known as The Ocean Race) in 1989/1990. Braving treacherous seas and overcoming rampant sexism, Tracy and her teammates came in second, smashing the gender barrier for competitive sailing along the way.

“We defied the skeptics and not only ‘survived’ but won two legs and came in second overall,” Edwards told the Brooklyn Eagle.

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Edwards’ accomplishment (her results were the best for a British boat since 1977) earned her an MBE (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), and she was the first woman to receive the ‘Yachtsman of the Year’ trophy. Her exploits — from her rebellious teen years to her lifelong friendship with her mentor, King Hussein of Jordan — were immortalized in the Sony film MAIDEN, available on Amazon. (See trailer here.)

Winning the Whitbread carried no cash prize, and Edwards was forced to sell Maiden at its conclusion.

Celebrated sailor Tracy Edwards on her way to greet her yacht Maiden in New York Harbor. Maiden is currently docked at ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

“I found her again in 2014 and raised the funds to rescue her and ship her back to the UK where we restored her to her former glory,” Edwards said. Maiden is now on a three-year world tour with a new mission: The Maiden Factor Foundation works with, raises funds for and supports communities to enable girls’ education.

The goal is “a world where every girl has access to 12 years of quality education, empowering them to choose their future and fulfill their dreams,” Edwards said.

Tracy Edwards spots Maiden as she pulls into the harbor. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

The Eagle joined Edwards and a group of fellow sailors and supporters on the yacht Full Moon to greet Maiden and her all-female crew as she sailed into Brooklyn. The sailors of the Maiden gracefully crisscrossed the harbor all the way to the marina, where Edwards hopped from the Full Moon to hug the beaming crew.

Maiden is currently docked at ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina in Brooklyn Bridge Park, where Edwards and the crew will be doing community events at local schools and youth groups.

“We’re so thrilled to be hosting a sailing legend like Tracy and the whole team from Maiden,” said Sam Barrett Cotter, the marina’s dockmaster. “Anyone who hasn’t seen the Maiden documentary needs to drop what they’re doing, get on Amazon prime and give it a watch. It’s an incredibly inspiring story not just about woman smashing the gender barrier in world sailing, but about people facing immense adversity as they conquer the most dangerous seas on the planet. For them to stop here in Brooklyn is an honor and a privilege.”

ONE°15 is hosting a fundraising event at Estuary Restaurant on Monday, June 6 where Edwards will be speaking. “Guests will meet her and the crew and even get to tour the boat they sailed around the world. Our Chef Dennis is roasting a suckling pig Hawaiian style – it’s going to be an awesome event,” Barrett Cotter said. (Sign up with EventBrite).

Tracy Edwqards, left, with Sandy Murray. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

Other events: On June 9 from 5 – 7 p.m., a flotilla will escort Maiden from Brooklyn up the Hudson to Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston.

Maiden will be visiting PortSide NewYork in Red Hook on Wednesday, June 22 from 9 a.m. to roughly 1 p.m. She will be alongside the historic ship Mary A. Whalen. 

Supporters greet Maiden

Among those on hand to greet the Maiden were Wendy Lin, Sadia Zaman and Kaitlin Cho, graduates of Hudson River Community Sailing program’s Sail Academy Youth Development Program.

“I watched the documentary MAIDEN and I thought it was absolutely fantastic,” Cho said. “I was given the opportunity to interview her as well and ask her about her experience working with the crew, and eventually I also got to work with one of her other crew members, Dawn Riley.”

The young women were accompanied by the organization’s Director of Communications and Development Maeve Gately.

“We work with local public middle and high school students who learn how to sail and build wooden boats,” Gately said. “They learn STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] through sailing — like the physics of how a sail works or the marine life of the Hudson River.”

World-class sailors Paul Wilson and Brita Siepker introduced each other and explained why they are Maiden enthusiasts.

Maiden docked at ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

“Brita quit her job and sailed around the world, and is extraordinarily into women’s empowerment,” Wilson said about Siepker. “She did all sorts of things on her journeys to help children, especially girls. She is a massive fan of what Maiden is doing.”

About Wilson, Siepker said, “Paul is a U.S. National Championship sailor. He saw the movie for the first time with me and became a huge supporter as well. He is well known for always having women on the boat. In several U.S. National Championships he’s had a full female crew — he’s another woman empowerer.”

“I’m here because I love Tracy and I love to support her mission and her passion for wanting to help young women and women in general, and I love being on water,” said Jeanne Andlinger, a former owner of the superyacht P2. “I just want to be part of them coming in and supporting them.”

Mack Edwards-Mair, Tracy Edwards’ daughter. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

Andlinger’s friend Lee Robb accompanied her on the trip to greet Maiden.

“I love boats,” she said. “I lived in the British Virgin Islands for years and so this is a wonderful opportunity to be on the water.” She added, “This is the first I’m hearing about the Tracy story. This is so exciting.”

“I’m here because Tracy was kind enough to make available an opportunity to donate to the cause and as well as honor my aunt who passed away a few years ago,” said John Ebbert. “She was a big sailor from the Great Lakes.”

“I’m a friend of a group of women called Women Who Sail on Facebook. We are also inclusive of non-binary folk,” said Anne Bryant, a resident of Brooklin, Maine, who sails a 27-foot wooden sloop. “In the late summer of 2020 we did a series of talks on Mondays called Maiden Mondays — there were five in a row, and we helped with the big fundraising push.”

Maiden gracefully slices through New York Harbor on her way to Brooklyn. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

“The documentary was the first time I was introduced,” Bryant said. “I didn’t know that Tracy had been already doing work on my behalf in the sailing world to make sure that I would have a place in the water.”

Mack Edwards-Mair, Tracy’s daughter, quietly oversaw the event. Though inspired by the ship and crew, she doesn’t sail herself, she said. Instead, she is the events manager for The Maiden Factor, flying from stop to stop. “I’m based wherever the boat is.”

Tracy Edwards greets Maiden’s crew at ONE°15 Brooklyn Marina in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle
From left: Sandy Murray, Tracy Edwards and Tosh Barron. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle
World class sailors Brita Siepker and Paul Wilson. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle
Sailing enthusiast Wendy Lin with Tracy Edwards. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

Tracy Edwards, left, and Anne Bryant. Photo: Mary Frost, Brooklyn Eagle

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