Meet The Maiden Crew
Tracy Edwards MBE - Skipper
Tracy Edwards is the central figure in Maiden, the documentary feature about her
effort to compete in the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Race skippering the
first all-female crew. In 1990, Tracy was awarded the MBE (Member of the British
Empire) by HM
Queen Elizabeth II; the Royal Jordanian Air Force Wings by HM King Hussein of
became the first woman in its 34-year history to be awarded the Yachtsman of the
Her memoir of the race, Maiden, was Whitbread Sports Book of the Year and on the
bestseller list for 19 weeks.
In 1998, Tracy put together the first all-female crew to attempt the fastest
circumnavigation by sail. Her 92-foot catamaran broke five world records. Her
Living Every Second, was published in 2001. Maiden II in 2001 saw Tracy create
and manage the
world's first ever mixed gender fully professional racing team which broke many
records in their 120ft catamaran. In 2005, Edwards created and managed the first
the world race to start and finish in the Middle East.
Tracy retired from sailing in 2005 and worked for CEOP (Child Exploitation and
Protection) as Project Manager for their International Youth Advisory
Conference. During 2009 -
2012 she studied at Roehampton University and graduated with a 2:1 Degree in
Currently, Tracy has combined these passions for sailing, female empowerment,
advocacy with her Maiden Factor Foundation, named for her original sailboat. She
Maiden from a dilapidated condition, restored the 58' monohull to its former
glory, and is
organizing round-the-world fundraising and awareness tours for her foundation.
iconic part of British maritime history, now has a new life as an Ambassador and
Tracy Edwards on fighting sexism:
"30 years ago, it may have been easier for us to have the battle than I think it
young women today, because when we came up against sexism it was in your face.
was-Bam! It was something you could fight. You know, that you could see and you
could take hold of it. And you could shout and fight. Now it's insidious. No one
dare to be overtly sexist now or misogynistic; it's kind of gone under the
radar. And I
think that's really worrying. It's a new conversation-the discussion hasn't gone
It's just taken a different form. So, with The Maiden Factor we've decided to
men more within the project, including sailing on the boat for the first time."
Jo Gooding - Cook, Videographer
Jo remains one of Tracy's closest friends having known each other since their
Wales. But the pair couldn't be more different; in stark contrast to Tracy's
high energy, go get
'em attitude, Jo is perennially calm, shy and insightful.
Before Maiden, Jo was working in a pub in her hometown and had lost touch with
out of the blue Tracy gave her a call and told her about the idea for competing
in the Whitbread
Maiden. Jo had never sailed competitively but immediately answered Tracy's call
the cook on board. She also served as the principal videographer though she also
with other crew members.
Post Maiden Jo went back to the Isles of Scilly, working in the local hospital
and volunteering in
the school. She moved back to the mainland and worked in various caring roles
Mental Health and children and young people with learning and physical
In 2002, Jo trained as a Counsellor and in 2006, set up her own business working
adolescents and adults. She completed her Postgraduate Certificate in Education
in teaching in
2008, and now delivers courses, workshops as well as health and well-being
Jo Gooding on doomsayers:
"When we were on Maiden we didn't really take much notice of the negative things
were being said. Even when it was said that we could die and that would be a
we agreed it would be and no-one had any intention of dying!"
Marie-Claude Kieffer Heys - First Mate
Marie-Claude was born in the seaside town of Brest, Brittany, France, to parents
yacht racing as a hobby. She started sailing school at the age of 7,
participating with family in
races on her parents' boat. By 16, Marie-Claude took charge of her father's
28-foot sailboat for
cruising and racing with friends, bringing early lessons in responsibility and
freedom. To further
her dream of someday competing in the Whitbread Race, she learned sailmaking,
and every aspect of yacht racing, and supported herself as a professional sailor
from a very
In 1983, she entered the single-handed Figaro race, a key race for gaining media
subsequently, sponsorship. This also proved to be a key race in developing her
her own abilities. She competed in this race again in 1987, 1990, and 1991, with
results. She skippered female crews for the Tour de France a la Voile in 1985
At the age of 25, Marie-Claude completed her first victorious transatlantic
York on Lady Elf with a crew of 7 women and 5 men. She used her prize money on
mode of transportation, buying a motorcycle from another crew member.
When she heard about Tracy Edwards' campaign to bring an all-female crew to the
Race, she immediately sent Tracy her CV, eventually bringing two of her sailing
Mundy and Michele Paret, onboard the Maiden team with her. As First Mate she
played a key
role in Maiden's intensive six-month tear-down and refit project and devoted two
preparations for Maiden's Whitbread campaign.
The leadership conflict with Tracy Edwards that led to her sacking shortly
before the start of the
Whitbread Race is captured in the Maiden documentary feature. Although she was
disappointed that she missed the chance to race the Whitbread with Maiden, she
went on to
complete the race twice: in 1993 on board 'Heineken' (invited by skipper Dawn
again in 1997 on 'EF Education.' In 2011 she again sailed Heineken in the Volvo
with a 12-woman team made up of representatives from all 4 previous all-girl
campaigns. Marie-Claude and Tracy have been able to settle their differences and
long-term relationship of cordial respect and friendship.
After retiring from professional sailing Marie-Claude married a fellow sailor
and moved to
Hamble in Hampshire, where Maiden was based all those years ago. She now runs a
importing and brokering boats, Key Yachting, and sails year-round with customers
Marie-Claude Heys on women in yacht racing today:
"Overall it is still tough for the girls. Girls who train hard and earn their
stripes are now
seen at all level of campaigns and have gained respect. However, the imbalance
weight and strength, plus stereotypical mindsets, still makes it a man's world
types of boats. The boat designs have become more and more extreme, requiring
crew but more brute physical strength-so if you need to take the strongest
obviously that won't be the women. Now the Volvo race requires two women on
crew-otherwise there probably wouldn't be any."
Howard Gibbons - Project Manager
The all-female Maiden crew actually had several men as well as women on shore
crew, led by
Howard Gibbons, who managed project planning and land operations from the very
start of the
Before he met Tracy Edwards, Howard was a journalist working for a local
Southampton. Having been close to the sailing community for some time he had
experience of helping to organise professional crews. When he heard the idea for
was the first person to encourage Tracy to go for it.
He became the project manager before the team was in place and used his press
to push the idea to a wider audience. He motivated Tracy to speak publicly and
project and gave her extensive media training. Howard was also Tracy's rock and
there, right beside her, if doubt ever set in.
After the '89 race Howard went on to project manage 'Heineken' in the 1993 race
Dawn Riley and crewed by several Maiden alums). He also managed Tracy in the
with her 'Maiden 2' catamaran campaign.
Howard still lives in Hamble and has been helping manage the refurbishment of
throughout 2018. He has also served as the project manager for the Volvo Oceans
Howard Gibbons on a once-in-a-lifetime experience:
"Every so often a sporting first comes along that transcends sport itself to
famous for a whole set of reasons. Tracy's determination to make it happen
the odds, and gathering such a wonderful crew and support team around her to
so, was, and still is, an epic achievement, and to say it changed perceptions of
sailing is an understatement. It was unprecedented, challenging, great,
wonderful and a
lot of fun. We had the time of our lives."
Dawn Riley - Watch Captain,
Dawn Riley, the only American on the Maiden team, began sailing as a young girl
family in Michigan on Lake St. Clair ("nothing yacht-clubby") and has supported
herself on and
around boats since age 14, putting herself through college boat-captaining. The
trained her well in extreme conditions and heavy seas. She jumped at the chance
to join a
Whitbread team with Maiden, intrigued to see what an all-female team could
As Watch Captain on Maiden, she and her co-captain Michele Paret traded shifts
command while Skipper Tracy Edwards typically focused on strategy and
physical strength also served her as Driver and Engineer.
Within 36 hours of Maiden crossing the finish line in 1990, Dawn was back in New
appearing on the David Letterman show, snatched up by the producers as the
American rep on
the high-profile team. She had graduated from Michigan State in Advertising
before the race
and this served her well as her career went from strength to strength in the
sailing world. In
1996, as CEO and Captain of America True, Dawn was the first woman to manage an
Cup sailing team. She has raced on four Americas Cup campaigns and two
Volvo Ocean Race). In the 1993-4 race she was Skipper of Heineken, joined on her
several former Maiden crew members.
Dawn is a former president of the Women's Sport Foundation, founded by Billie
Jean King, and
is active in many public service and political activities. Dawn serves as a
board member of the
NGB - US Sailing and the SCS Democratic Club. She was co-author of Taking the
autobiographical story of her Round the World Race experiences.
Dawn is a television commentator and experienced public speaker, on topics
entertaining adventure stories to motivational seminars in team building and
She considers herself to be a well-rounded, accomplished businesswoman,
and youth sports advocate, author, speaker, TV commentator and committed
Most recently, Dawn created and runs Oakcliff Sailing Center, a unique training
center that is "Building American Leaders through Sailing." Dawn believes that
this center will
prove to be significant in creating leaders inside and outside the marine
Dawn Riley on the audacity of the Maiden challenge:
"I'm quoted in the documentary saying I didn't believe there were any other
good female sailors in the world. I didn't say that to be snotty-though it
sounds a little
that way. I was underscoring how absolutely radical an idea Tracy's campaign
what a fantastic opportunity it was for really competitive, ambitious women like
Michele Paret - Watch Captain
French sailor Michele Paret has always been an active sportswoman, devoting her
wind surfing, climbing and mountain biking until she discovered sailing. She met
and raced with
Marie-Claude Keiffer in France, joined Maiden with her, and took Marie-Claude's
she left the team. She became one of the two watch captains under Tracy.
She spoke no English when she came aboard Maiden-the first vocabulary she
the names of tools. She quickly picked up the language.
After the race she met her partner in sailing, racing, and life Dominique Wavre
and the pair
continued sailing together, achieving a successful 3rd place in the Quebec to St
Malo Transat. In
2007 they placed 3rd in the Barcelona World Race.
Michele continues to sail and has over 170,000 sea miles on the open seas with
of crewed and solo ocean regattas. Due to her almost continuous travel we were
unable to find
a time to interview Michele for the film.
Michele Paret on how women collaborate:
"I discovered onboard Maiden a different way of women working together to
the same performance as men, a typically feminine and caring solidarity amongst
Approaching the finish line, I simultaneously felt a huge joy mixed with a huge
mixed up with tears... All the girls were in the front of the boat but I couldn't
there. The finish line marked the end of this great adventure, but the beginning
Sally Creaser Hunter - Helm,
Scotswoman Sally Creaser (now Hunter) came from a sailing family and raced
both Scotland and Northern Ireland. She took a job working in a boatyard, heard
early on, and wanted to join up. She traveled down to Hamble and was hired by
Tracy on the
spot because of her experience and sense of humour.
Onboard Maiden, Sally worked mostly in the cockpit, at the helm or winches.
After the '89 race Sally continued sailing until 1991 when she finished second
in the 'Azores and
Back' race. She married in 1995 to Iain Hunter and set up her own company,
Deliveries, as well as a swim school in her local Scottish town, Arran. Her two
sons are both
professional sailors; the older, Neil, sails for Ben Ainslie's Americas Cup
campaign. Sally is still
heavily involved in the sailing world.
Sally Hunter on physical strength and skill:
"A lot of credit for how well we did should go to the girls who were so good at
the boat, in the Southern Ocean especially. It took a lot of skill and physical
keep that boat going fast in the right direction in some very heavy sea and wind
conditions. Every one of the helms suffered from tendonitis in our wrists from
constant movements necessary."
Jeni Mundy - Foredeck
Jeni finished university with a BSc in Maths with Philosophy and in need of an
had grown up sailing and racing dinghies on the Thames with her family, and
spent a couple of
post-bac years in the Caribbean where she met Marie-Claude Kieffer and advanced
skills. Marie-Claude connected her with Tracy's Maiden crew search.
Maiden was Jeni's first experience of professional sailing. She did go on to
Whitbread Race again four years later. It was during the preparation for the
1989 race that Jeni
realized a talent for electronics when laying the cables in the refurb of
After her stint sailing, Jeni gained a Masters in Electronic Engineering and
became a Fellow of
the Royal Academy of Engineers. She worked in New Zealand telecommunications in
Engineering roles before joining Vodafone as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO)
the Enterprise Product Division for Vodafone Group. She has also worked with
Auto Trader, the
UK's largest digital automotive marketplace, as an Independent Non-Exec Board
Jeni is currently Regional Managing Director for UK and Ireland for Visa, the
credit card giant.
Jeni Mundy on endurance:
"Human beings are amazing. We can achieve and endure so much more than we think.
We're amazingly resilient. During the Southern Ocean crossing we lived in
conditions, minus twenty with the wind chill, lucky to get two hours sleep,
but two hours is better than no hours. The definition of a team is having
every single one is fully braced to take on whatever happens. We were that kind
Tanja Visser - Foredeck and Sailmaker
A childhood sailing in her native Holland gave Tanja a passion for sailing and
when she had
finished her studies in both dentistry and photography she jumped at the chance
to make a
career change into professional sailing for a while. When she joined Maiden she
first Dutch woman to have taken part in the race.
In addition to her jobs as bowman and sailmaker, Tanja brought a dental
onboard as she was already a professional dentist. She also helmed, and did some
of the video
filming and still photography. During the race she met her husband, a watch
captain on board
'Merit'. Tanja was the first of the Maiden crew to have a child, so their
daughter is the first child
to be born to parents who both completed the Whitbread.
After the '89 race Tanja continued sailing until the early 2000's, meanwhile
setting up her own
dental surgery outside Amsterdam. Tanja also breeds dressage horses and owns her
studfarm where she lives with her two children and six dogs.
Tanja Visser on the Maiden experience:
"For all of us it was a big dream that came true. The trust and respect for each
the strong sisterhood of my Maiden friends makes me feel strong in difficult
part of ourselves and I carry it with me always. If you believe in something, go
work hard, and never give up."
Mikaela Von Koskull - Watchwoman, Helm, Deck
Originally from Korpo, in the southwestern Archipelago of Finland, Mikaela
inherited her love
and respect of nature and sea, from a long line of seafarers in her family. She
started her career
graduating as Radio Officer from Mariehamn Maritime Institute, working on
ships, followed by ship's purser on passenger ships. Slowly she gained sea-miles
to follow her real dream: to become a professional yachtswoman on sailing
As well as crewing on Maiden in 1989, Mikki participated in the next Whitbread
all-woman crew skippered by Dawn Riley. She is the only sailor to have taken
part in all three of
Tracy Edwards' sailing ventures: the '89 Maiden campaign; the 2001 Maiden II
outing; and the launch of the Maiden Factor. Mikki has also participated in both
Vabre and Jules Verne race events and on the Multihull circuit. Having spent so
many miles and
years on fast, extreme yachts, both in the Northern and Southern Hempishere, she
being part of similar expeditions (although on somewhat slower ships).
Since 2009 she has been working as a tour guide, mainly in Europe and Africa, as
well as zodiac
driver in Svalbard and Greenland; she is drawn to places that offer both vast
open space and
astounding nature. When not enjoying her two favourite areas, the North and the
Mikaela enjoys being at home on her small farm in Portugal, riding her horse or
hiking in the
As another world traveler difficult to pin down, Mikaela could not be
interviewed for the
Mikaela Von Koskull on Maiden's dream fulfilled:
"Having been brought up in a country that was rather equal-opportunity, I had
many years before Maiden, that racing big boats across the ocean was the thing I
wanted to do-not because I'm a woman, but simply because it was my dream. We all
just wanted the opportunity to do it. Maiden was really my steppingstone for a
in sailing. Tracy made that happen."
Claire Russell - Sail Trimmer,
Born in Birmingham, England, Claire studied medicine at the Royal Free Medical
London. She began sailing as a university student, so was a keen but somewhat
sailor relative to the Maiden crew. When Claire heard an-all female crew was
together and needed a doctor she signed up straight away.
During the race Claire showed incredible grace under pressure when two men fell
into the Southern Ocean on board 'Creighton's Naturally'. With Maiden being the
to Creighton's, Claire took to the radio and talked the crew through emergency
care for the two
men once they had recovered them from the fatally cold ocean. Through Claire's
Creighton's crew were able to save the life of one man, Bart Vandendway, but
unable to save the other, Anthony Phillips, who perished on board.
Claire also met her future husband during the race, Peter Warren, a New
Zealander who was
racing on 'NBC Ireland'. In the years following the Whitbread, Claire continued
to sail, travel
and practice medicine, eventually specializing in Accident and Emergency
Medicine in the UK.
After their daughters were born in 1997 and 1999, Peter and Claire moved to New
Claire worked as a Rural General Practitioner and primary response doctor, also
Fellow of the New Zealand College of General Practitioners.
Claire is presently a senior staff doctor in an 'Urgent Care' centre in
Hamilton, New Zealand; a
facility providing 24-hour accident and medical care to the population of
They run a small equestrian facility and Peter runs a farm contracting business.
daughter Jessica is in her third year at Wellington University, NZ, and Leah is
in her second
university year in the United States on a sports scholarship.
Claire Russell on facing danger:
"If you send a whole load of 20-year-olds round the world doing high-profile
sport, for lots of reasons there's potential that people could die. In truth,
could have done what I did, talking the other boat through hypothermia
were close to Creighton's, we knew them. I had friends on that boat. So, my
the radio gave them permission to act. I was a step distanced from their
situation and awful emotions because I was on the end of a radio. A lot of
just support. When we reached port, Bart came up and gave me a box of
Amanda Swan Neal - Rigger
Amanda grew up in Auckland, New Zealand and sailed to North America as a
teenager aboard a
38' sloop that she helped her parents build. She has spent her life on and
She was rigger aboard Maiden, then in 1994 joined her future husband John Neal
Mahina Tiare II for a series of sail-training expeditions from NZ to Cape Horn
They still own and operate Mahina Expeditions, leading ocean sail-training
worldwide aboard Mahina Tiare III and also present instructional sailing
seminars at major boat
Amanda is author of The Essential Galley Companion and Marine Diesel Engine
Essentials - A
Coloring and Learning Book created to help demystify engine systems, and since
2005, she has
written the monthly Galley Essentials column in 48 North magazine. She and John
write for four
sailing magazines and submit cruising images to yachting journals.
Amanda's 335,00 miles of ocean sailing include two Sydney-Hobart Races, numerous
international regattas and seven Cape Horn roundings intermixed with a ten-year
in tall ship sail-training. Amanda and John recently sailed from 80 degrees
Spitsbergen, to New Zealand. Mahina Tiare will be based in the South Pacific for
the next five
Still based in New Zealand, Amanda enjoys introducing women to the joys of the
lifestyle and her personal interests include Celtic step dancing, photography,
Amanda is not interviewed in Maiden.
Amanda Swan Neal on the job of rigger:
"For me Maiden was a dream come true. I was the first woman in New Zealand to
complete a sailmaker's apprenticeship and first woman rigger in the Southern
Hemisphere, so it was fantastic to work and race aboard Maiden and hone my
job as rigger on Maiden entailed taking care of the mast and rigging. I was
for keeping the mast up, ensuring that the standing rigging helped keep the mast
that the running rigging was in order for controlling the sails. This entailed
daily trips to
the top of the mast for rig inspection and broken or tangled halyards. I'm proud
personally stuck the course, we didn't drop the mast, there were no major
and that we were the first woman crew to race around the world-no one can ever
that away from us!"
Nancy Harris - Sail Trimmer,
Born and bred in Hampshire, England, Nancy grew up in Hamble, the hub of
boatbuilding and professional sailing circuit. Nancy began sailing singlehanded
boats in her
teens before beginning in offshore sailing.
In 1988 she had a chance meeting with Howard Gibbons on board a bus and she went
meet Tracy Edwards that day and joined Maiden.
After the race finished, Nancy remained in Hampshire and enjoys life in the
her husband, two daughters and several horses.
Nancy Harris on the joys of dry land:
"When we screened the film, it was good to show my family a part of my life they
didn't know much about. It was wonderful to see how well everyone was, and to
Tracy's projects, but I am happy with my feet on the ground and looking after my
animals and garden. I've tried to instill in my children the values I learned
don't give up. There is always a way of overcoming anything."
Angela Heath - Sail Trimmer
Irishwoman Angela worked as a secretary/receptionist in National Board for
Technology and six years in an insurance company until in 1989 a chance
encounter with Tracy
Edwards in a bar in Cork led to her competing in the Fastnet Race with the
Maiden team. Tracy
then invited her to join Maiden as Sail Trimmer for the 1989 race.
She continued to work in various administration roles until 1994 when she became
a mum of
From 2001 to 2006 Angela worked as Office Manager in Viking Marine, Clothing &
Specialists, Dun Laoghaire.
A change in career direction led her to join a doctor as Practice Manager in a
GP practice. She remained in the medical industry until early 2017.
Angela lives in Dublin Bay with her family and friends. She also loves
gardening, hill-walking, piano, snow-skiing and pottery.
Sarah Davies - Reserve Crew
Sarah served with the Woman's Royal Navy Service (WRNS) from 1982 and before
Sandhurst to train as an Army Officer.
Having spotted a small advert in Yachts and Yachting for crew wanted for Maiden,
with leave of
absence granted by the Army, she joined the team as reserve crew nine months
race. She completed one leg of the race from New Zealand to Australia in place
of Sally Creaser.
After the race, Sarah continued to race with the Army offshore team and racing a
other boats including their Nordic Folkboat.
She has lived and worked in Kiel, Germany, London, Suffolk and Cyprus. A brief
foray away from
sailing saw her working with one of the City of London Livery Companies, the
Company of Saddlers, which only served to encourage her two daughters' passion
and she now spends her spare time, along with Simon her husband, as groom and
Sarah has three children, two who have sailed in the GBR Junior and Youth teams
and the third
who prefers to be on horseback.
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