British Columbia

Historic racing sailboat arrives in Vancouver with all-female crew

The Maiden first gained acclaim as the first yacht to be sailed around the world by an all-female crew in the 1989/1990 version of the Whitbread Round the World Yacht race.

The Maiden — subject of a new documentary — will be docked in Vancouver until Aug. 6

The all-female crew of the Maiden arrived in Vancouver on Saturday. (The Maiden Factor)

The Maiden — a yacht that gained acclaim in 1989 as the first helmed by an all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht race — arrived in Vancouver Saturday and will be docked in Coal Harbour all week. 

The boat is on a commemorative world tour to raise awareness and funds for girls' education, and just like its famous race crew, it has a team of female sailors.

The vessel's original all-female crew paved the way for female sailors during the difficult round-the-world race. The team came in second overall, defying sponsors who dropped the team fearing they would die at sea and male competitors who openly took bets on their failure.

Their journey is the subject of a new documentary called Maiden. The film follows 24-year-old Tracy Edwards who skippered the crew in the prestigious race. Later, Edwards became the first woman to be awarded the Yachtsman of the Year Trophy.

The Maiden sailed around the world with an all-female crew in the 1989/90 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race. (The Maiden Factor)

Theresa Riedl, 26, of Vancouver, is one of the female sailors on board for the yacht's current world tour. Riedl, who started sailing when she was 20, joined the crew for the Honolulu to Vancouver leg.

While the trip across the Pacific was tough — battling raging swells and fierce winds across the open ocean — Reidl is reflective on what being on the historic yacht means to her.

"You think what this boat has done and what it means for women sailing and then [that] kind of gives me goose bumps," Riedl said. 

The Maiden’s story is told in a new documentary film, Maiden, which premiered July 26. (The Maiden Factor)

She says though she doesn't face the same kind of overt discrimination that Edwards and her crew faced 30 years ago, there is still discrimination against women in sailing, and they are vastly underrepresented.

For instance, she was the only female skipper working a route in one of her past jobs.

"The guys are all pretty supportive but I was the only woman working that route in the Mediterranean for two months," she said. 

"On this boat, literally everybody [is] a woman, and some of the top female sailors [are] with us ... [you're] just seeing that, you know, girls can do all of that actually."

The yacht will be docked in Vancouver at the Coal Harbour Marina until August 6, after which it will depart for Seattle. 

With files from Micki Cowan