Tracy Edwards, who made history by leading the first all-female crew to the finish line of the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1990, needs to raise £50,000 to rescue Maiden from ruin
Tracy Edwards, the yachtswoman, has launched an ambitious bid to rescue her famous boat after discovering it has been abandoned on an island in the Indian Ocean.
The sailor, who made history 25 years ago by leading the first all-female crew to the finish line of the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1990, needs to raise £50,000 to save it from ruin.
Miss Edwards won two of the six legs of the gruelling race with her team of 12 and their ground-breaking achievement inspired women around the world to take up the sport.
Maiden, their 58ft yacht, was the unsung star of the race as it was already 21 years old at the time and was self-funded by the skipper.
Tracy Edwards on Maiden arriving off Fort Lauderdale during the 1985/6 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race (TanjaVisser/PPL/BNPS)
Since the momentous event the vessel has had several owners and has fallen into a state of disrepair and is now languishing in a marina on an unnamed island in the Indian Ocean.
Miss Edwards recently discovered its plight and has launched a fundraising campaign to salvage the boat, bring it back to Britain and restore it to its former glory.
The campaign has garnered support from celebrities including Simon Le Bon, the Duran Duran singer, and Sir Richard Branson, who are both keen sailors.
Miss Edwards, 50, hopes to reunite her former crew and re-enact their historic race finish a quarter of a century ago by sailing Maiden up Southampton Water on May 28, 2015.
The vessel will then go on display at maritime museums around Britain and also be used to take young people sailing.
Miss Edwards, who was awarded the MBE and named Sportswoman of the Year in 1990, needs to raise almost £50,000 to transport the boat to Cape Town where it will be refitted and then sailed to the UK.
She said: "When we formed the Maiden crew I had to take out a mortgage just to buy the boat.
"I had no choice but to sell her at the end of the race which was very sad. I sold her to someone who looked after her well but she was then passed to someone who didn't.
"I have kept an eye on her for many years and it has been heart-breaking seeing her gradually rot away unloved.
"I got an email from someone saying they had found Maiden in a marina on an island in the Indian Ocean.
"She had been there for a few years and was in a terrible state looking like she had just been dumped.
"I contacted the marina which had seized her after her last owner disappeared. The staff got in touch with me and asked if I would like her.
"I've gone from swearing that I would never set foot on another boat as long as I live to facing the prospect of resurrecting Maiden and sailing her again.
"I can't even start to think what it will be like to spend a month on the old girl bringing her home from Cape Town, let alone sailing into Southampton with the original crew.
"We will be leaving the swimsuits at home this time though."
Maiden languishing in a marina in the Indian ocean (TracyEdwards/BNPS)
In 1985 Miss Edwards became the very first woman to take part in the Whitbread Round the World Race, now the Volvo Ocean Race.
Afterwards she began assembling an all-woman crew and bought a boat called Prestige, which was refitted and renamed Maiden by the Duchess of York in 1988.
A year later Maiden was among 22 boats which started the race from Southampton.
Many doubted an all-woman crew could compete with male crews but Miss Edwards led her team to second overall in her class.
Miss Edwards now lives in London with her 14-year-old daughter Mackenna and runs a company providing advice on internet and travel security.
She added: "The Maiden campaign was so much more than just a group of women proving they could race around the world.
"It became a symbol for anyone inspired to achieve something amazing. We weren't a big budget boat and we had to scrimp and save to make it happen.
"With a little bit of TLC we can restore Maiden to her former splendour and our hope is she can inspire countless people to sail. There is still plenty of life left in Maiden."
Mr Le Bon, 55, who raced in the 1985-86 Whitbread race on his yacht Drum, said: "I really am very excited to be part of the mission to rescue Maiden to commemorate her 25th anniversary.
"When Tracy and I sailed around the world in the 1985-86 race, it was of course a male dominated event.
"Little did I know that Tracy would race around again, and the next time with an all-female crew, on what is now a piece of maritime history.
"Maiden kept the girls safe on their epic voyage and I can't wait till we get her back to the UK where she belongs."
She sounds like a cunt to me.