Tracy Edwards, MBE (born 5 September 1962) is a British sailor. In 1989 she 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 and was awarded an MBE honour. She has written two books about her experiences.
Edwards spent her early years in Pangbourne, England, with dreams of becoming a ballet dancer like her mother, but began to get into trouble after the death of her father when she was 10 and her subsequent relocation with her mother and stepfather to Wales. Sent backpacking across Europe at the age of 16 after her expulsion from school, she signed on as a stewardess of a yacht in Piraeus, which was her first introduction to sailing.
During a stopover in the United States she met King Hussein I of Jordan, who organised funding from Royal Jordanian Airlines for her to buy a second-hand 10-year-old 58-foot yacht and refurbish it, renaming it Maiden.
Edwards wound up serving several positions, including deckhand and first mate, before entering her first Whitbread in the 1985–1986 competition. She began with the Norsk Data GB and in the second leg became cook aboard the Atlantic Privateer. Based on the small ratio of women in the race–five out of 200–she determined to enter in 1989 with an entirely female crew. She recruited a 12-woman crew, and Maiden finished second in its class, winning two out of six individual legs of the race. Edwards, who had taken out loans to buy the boat, sold it after the race. In 1990, she detailed her story in the book, Maiden, co-authored with Tim Madge. Her effort to better the Whitbread accomplishment in a female-crew bid for the Jules Verne Trophy in 1998 ended when bad weather broke the mast of her boat near Chile.
Thereafter, Edwards started a family and began managing sailing programmes. In 2000 she undertook a new round-the-world sailing venture, Maiden 2, an attempt to claim the Jules Verne Trophy with a 110-foot maxi catamaran. This attempt ended with the boat being dismasted off of the coast of Chile. Edwards was then involved in the organization of a new round-the world race, Oryx Quest, in 2005 in Qatar. This was the first time a round-the-world race had started and finished in the Middle East, based in Doha. After the successful event, which saw four of the fastest multihulls compete, Edwards was forced into bankruptcy when the Qatari sponsor dissolved their company and refused payment. She had personally borrowed £8m from the bank to help fund the event.
She left sailing and went to work for the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) as Project Manager for their International Youth Advisory Congress. Upon completion she attended Roehampton University and took a degree (2:1) in psychology. She continued with her motivational speaking and became a life coach. In 2013, she began teaching Internet Safety and Online Reputation to children and parents and works in schools and with youth groups.
She and the crew of Maiden in the yacht race are the subject of the 2018 documentary film, Maiden.
She is single, and has a daughter (aged 14 in 2014).
Recovery and restoration of Maiden
In 2014, Edwards discovered that Maiden was abandoned in poor condition in a marina in the Indian Ocean. She launched a successful public bid for funding to save the boat, with the intent to re-enact its Whitbread run before putting it in charitable use and displaying it in British maritime museums. Maiden returned to Southampton aboard a cargo ship in April 2017. Tracy Edwards and four of her Whitbread campaign crewmates were present to be reunited with their old boat. With external funding the boat was restored in Hamble, Southampton. With inspiration from King Hussein (and subsequently supported by his daughter, Princess Haya), Edwards founded "The Maiden Factor" which will utilise Maiden to raise funds and awareness for girls' education. It was planned to re-launch Maiden in the summer of 2018 and in September 2018 depart from Southampton Boat Show with a new crew of women, on a three-year world tour. The yacht left Hamble in November, but had to call into Plymouth for repairs. When they can continue, their first scheduled stop will be Kerala, India. They were underway again, headed for the Strait of Gibraltar, on 26 November.
- Maiden, with Tim Madge, Simon & Schuster, 1990 ISBN 978-0671710279
- Living Every Second Hodder & Stoughton, 2001 ISBN 978-0340770436
- Price, Oliver (1 October 2006). "Triumph and despair: Tracy Edwards". Observer Sport Monthly.
- Edwards, Tracy (4 October 2001). Living Every Second. Hodder & Stoughton. ISBN 978-0340770436.
- Phillips, Tricia (27 September 2012). "Wave of success: Round-the-world yachtswoman Tracy Edwards on bouncing back from redundancy". Mirror. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
- Tracy Edwards. "How it all began". Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- "Chapter 16 – Maiden voyage". Roaring Forties. Volvo Ocean Race, S.L.U. 12 June 2014.
- Robison, Julian (12 June 2014). "Tracy Edwards' bid to save boat that carried her round the world on historic voyage after it is found rotting on an island in the Indian Ocean". Daily Mail.
- Edgar, James (12 June 2014). "Yachtswoman Tracy Edwards launches bid to save decaying boat – 25 years on". The Telegraph.
- Edwards, Tracy; Madge, Tim (1990). Maiden. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-71027-9.
- "Maiden (2018)". IMDb. Retrieved 17 October 2019.
- Helliker, Adam (15 June 2014). "Tracy Edwards' mission to save a fair Maiden". Express.
- Hodgetts, Laura (3 July 2014). "'Maiden is coming home' thanks to £44,215 crowd funding". Practical Boat Owner.
- Edwards, Tracy (24 April 2017). "Maiden is home – at last..."
- Tracy Edwards. "Educate a Girl - Change the World". Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- Tracy Edwards. "Current Timeline". Retrieved 15 June 2018.
- "Maiden yacht world voyage halted after 36 hours". BBC News. 16 November 2018. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
- "Maiden yacht re-starts sail to India after repairs". BBC News. 26 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.