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58ft Bruce Farr Design


Heather Thomas

Tracy Edwards MBE and title sponsor of The Maiden Factor World Tour, DP World, the global logistics leader, are delighted to announce that the iconic yacht Maiden and her all-female crew will enter the 2023 Ocean Globe Race.

Maiden will take a break from her world tour, which began in September 2021, having covered nearly 30,000nm visiting 20 destinations and engaging with schools, charities and organisations as part of her mission to educate, empower and elevate girls, increasing their life and career choices and also raising money to fund girls’ educational projects around the world. The OGR will provide a great opportunity to amplify Maiden’s mission and the importance of educating all girls for better futures for all.

Maiden who is currently in Cape Town, SA, will sail back to the UK for final preparations for the September 2023 start, once again with a young female skipper and crew of up and coming sailors from around the world, who will no doubt inspire another generation of women and girls to follow their dreams.

Image: © Rick Tomlinson

With so many of the beautiful yachts from previous Whitbreads being rescued and restored, as has Maiden of course, it seems only fitting that they should be raced around the world again!

Tracy Edwards MBE

In 1989, Tracy Edwards skippered the first all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race, becoming the first woman to receive the Yachtsman of the Year Trophy.

At 11am on September 2, 1989, Maiden approached the start line for the Whitbread Round the World Race. They set off among the 22-strong fleet to begin the first leg to Uruguay, ultimately placing 3rd in their class. Although the girls were disappointed, the yachting press was astonished by their accomplishment.

After a three-week stopover, Maiden embarked on the 7,300-mile marathon from Uruguay to Australia. They opted for a southern route and faced numerous challenges, including icebergs, freezing temperatures, frostbite, contaminated gas, and a nine-day satellite signal outage. During the journey, two sailors from competitor yacht Creightons Naturally fell overboard, with one, Anthony Phillips, unable to be revived. Doctor Claire Russell stayed on Maiden’s radio for two days, providing guidance on how to keep the other man, Bart van den Dwey, alive.

The documentary ‘Maiden’ was released in 2018 to huge acclaim.

Despite the treacherous conditions, Maiden arrived in Perth, Australia, ten days ahead of its nearest competitor and earned the Beefeater Trophy. They then made a short 14-day journey to New Zealand, winning that leg and extending their overall lead to 28 hours. Maiden underwent repairs and maintenance in New Zealand before setting off on the next Southern Ocean leg, around Cape Horn to Uruguay. Although the leg was difficult, the team persevered and arrived in Uruguay, where their Godmother, The Duchess of York, welcomed them.

The leg to Ft Lauderdale in Florida was not without its challenges, with Maiden finishing in third place.

Maiden embarked on its final leg to Southampton, surviving a tornado and the last five days without food, and arrived home to a hero’s welcome. They secured 2nd place overall in their class, the best result for a British boat in 17 years, and remain unbeaten to this day.

Tracy and her team faced formidable obstacles, including opposition and sexism, but still managed to secure victory in two of the most grueling legs of the course, ultimately placing second overall. This achievement marked a turning point for the sailing community, creating new opportunities for female competitors.

In recognition of her remarkable accomplishments, Tracy was awarded an MBE and became the first woman to receive the prestigious ‘Yachtsman of the Year’ trophy.


Maiden OGR Crew © The Maiden Factor


Heather Thomas - Skipper of Maiden

Sailing is in Heather Thomas‘ blood, coming from a long line of mariners. Growing up in Otley, West Yorkshire, the sea was not close by, so Heather began her journey, dinghy sailing at the local lake, Otley Sailing Club, encouraged by her father. The Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation gave Heather her first taste of ocean sailing, with a bursary to compete in the Pacific Leg of the 15/16 Clipper Round the World Race. She has since worked in a variety of roles and vessels in the marine industry- from flotilla skipper to teaching young people in the Caribbean, delivering a yacht from the Galapagos to New Zealand, running flotilla holidays in the Ionian Islands and as Watch Leader for the Ocean Youth Trust North. Maiden has been a big inspiration to Heather throughout her sailing career, so to sail on her is a dream come true. Whilst on the Maiden programme she gained her RYA Yachtmaster Offshore (commercially endorsed) and loves inspiring young girls to dream big, a value that was instilled in her by her parents, who continue to be her biggest supporters.

First Mate

Rachel Burgess is used to unexpected calls for help in the middle of the night, be it in the wilds of the Southern Ocean or as a vet of 12 years standing in remote locations. “It makes you appreciate the value of getting sleep when you can,” said Rachel. All the expertise of completing a Covid-interrupted Clipper Race Circumnavigation (2019-2022) as well as her long-standing involvement in veterinary practice in the UK as well as in Australia will be put to good use now that she is confirmed as being on board Maiden for the OGR. The 36 year old originally tried out in 2021 but simply wasn’t able to commit the time at that juncture. Now she can, and takes her place as Chief Mate, right-hand to skipper Heather. Rachel has a huge volume of experiences to call upon even though she did not get her first taste of sailing until she was 16 years old taking part in a Tall Ship expedition that went from Weymouth to Dublin via several other ports of call. She graduated from the University of Glasgow as a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine in 2010. Rachel rekindled her passion for the open water when based in Newcastle on Australia’s eastern seaboard and has made a great fist of combining her working life with what she used to view as her hobby. Now she is committed full-time to Maiden for the OGR, looking forward to ‘the rawness of the ocean,’ although she does nurse a fear of ‘running out of Haribo.’ The huge swells of the Southern Ocean are nothing compared to that.

No.Name, NationalitySex, AgeLeg 1Leg 2Leg 3Leg 4
1Heather Thomas, GBRF, 26
2Rachel Burgess, GBRF, 36
3Willow Bland, GBRF, 25
4Lana Coomes, PRI/USAF, 18
5Payal Gupta, INDF, 33
6Amica (Ami) Hopkins, GBRF, 30
7Vuyisile Jaca, ZAFF, 25
8Junella King, ATGF, 22
9Molly Lapointe, USAF, 28
10Kate Ledgard, GBRF, 26
11Najiba Noori, AFGF, 28
12Flavia Onore, ITAF, 22
13Dhanya Pilo, INDF, 42


LOA58ft / 17.71m
Beam16ft / 5.02m
Draft10.5ft / 3.20m
Displacement21,773 kg
DesignerBruce Farr

In 1979, the yacht now known as Maiden was originally designed by the accomplished boat designer Bruce Farr under the name DISQUE D’OR 3 for the Swiss Ocean Racing Club. The club sought a lightweight and easily maneuverable ocean racing yacht for extended passage races, including the 1981-82 Whitbread Round the World Race. Pierre Fehlmann, a well-known Swiss yachtsman who had also participated in the previous Whitbread Race, skippered the vessel. Maiden, then DISQUE D’OR 3, completed the race and secured 4th place overall in the 1981-82 Whitbread competition.

Tracy was compelled to sell Maiden at the end of the race.

In 2014, she received news that Maiden had been abandoned and was slowly deteriorating in the Seychelles. Determined to preserve this exceptional maritime treasure, she launched a fundraising campaign to acquire the vessel and bring her back to the UK. Three years later, in April 2017, Maiden was transported to Southampton and underwent a thorough renovation, giving rise to The Maiden Factor initiative.

© The Maiden Factor