“It was such a dreadful phrase then,” explains the sailor, who that yr made historical past and defied critics by main the primary all-female crew to sail all over the world.
Had Edwards not been expelled from college — for smoking and consuming throughout a college journey — she could have by no means found her love of crusing and turn into the trailblazer she is in the present day.
Unbelievably, it was Edwards’ well-traveled mom who urged she pack her luggage and go touring to get some life expertise overseas — and alone — after she was left and not using a diploma.
“My mother was a unprecedented girl and he or she might see very clearly the place I used to be headed and the course I used to be carrying on,” Edwards tells Newpaper24 Sport.
“She realized I wanted to go away from the place I used to be and type of make many errors and discover my means.”
‘I did not notice there have been individuals like me’
It was in Greece the place Edwards, aged 17, started engaged on constitution yachts.
“I discovered my ft and realized that I would felt contained earlier than and it gave me the liberty to find what I wished to do,” she says.
“Each boat I labored on had an awesome skipper who was a mentor and a ragtag bunch of crew members who I spotted have been like me.
“I did not notice there have been individuals like me and I felt like I slot in for the primary time in my life, that nobody actually cared about anybody’s background or why we have been there.”
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Quick ahead 10 years and Edwards observed the numerous lack of girls round her at sea. She was a younger cook dinner and the one girl on-board South African boat Atlantic Privateer through the 1985-86 Whitbread Around the World Yacht Race — now referred to as the Volvo Ocean Race.
“Out of the 230 crew within the race, 4 of us have been women,” Edwards remembers. It was at this level that she started asking herself, “I ponder if women might do it?”
‘No one had ever seen a bunch of women working in a boatyard’
It was solely then, when Edwards started creating an all-female crew, that she says she had her first actual experiences of sexism or misogyny.
“I had by no means been informed earlier than that I could not do one thing — largely as a result of I used to be the place I needs to be — within the galley,” Edwards says as she rolled her eyes.
“However that was the response! I believe if the response hadn’t been so sturdy I would most likely moseyed via it however it made me factor ‘whoa, what is going on on?'”
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After mortgaging her home in 1987, Edwards purchased a dilapidated crusing yacht, Status, and introduced it again to the UK the place she, and her crew, started engaged on it.
“We had no cash so we have been only a bunch of women with instruments,” Edwards laughs. “No onerous hats, no well being or security — flip flops and shorts, wandering round with chainsaws.”
She says they have been the speak of the boatyard.
“No one had ever seen a bunch of women working in a boatyard so there was plenty of ‘would you like assist with that love?'” Edwards laughs.
Over six months, Edwards and her staff pulled the yacht aside, redesigned it and rebuilt it from scratch.
“The perfect factor about doing it was we knew each inch of her — we laid each cable, each pipe, we put each single factor in. We did every part ourselves.”
Even after rebuilding what grew to become to be referred to as Maiden, the all-female crew continued to face sexism inside the business.
“Maiden was both met with antipathy or aggression — probably not a lot in between,” Edwards says. “As we bought extra profitable it bought worse — they didn’t like that in any respect.”
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And profitable they have been, Maiden completed second in its class through the 1989-90 Whitbread — profitable two of the legs. It was the very best end result for a British boat in 17 years — and nonetheless stays the very best end result for an all-female crew.
It was an historic second that shocked the crusing world. It was additionally right here that she observed her views on feminism slowly modified.
“I spotted that certainly one of my early interviews one of many journalists query me ‘are you a feminist’ and I am going ‘oh God – no, no, no.’ … however then in a while I observed I (began) saying ‘sure I’m as a result of I imagine in equality.'”
After the race in 1990, Edwards bought Maiden and the 12 crew members scattered throughout the globe.
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‘Chapter was a defining second in my life’
Although with triumphs, got here defeats. Edwards started managing crusing applications and created the Oryx Quest in 2005 — the primary around the world race to start out and end within the Center East. The race despatched Edwards bankrupt, after the Qatari sponsor didn’t pay up its £6 million sponsorship.
“Recovering from that could be very onerous,” Edwards stated.
“It was one thing that occurred to me that I could not stop. I’d have by no means chosen to go down that route; It was a defining second in my life.
“It was onerous, I left house with nothing on the age of 15 and had accomplished very effectively for myself by the point I used to be 36 after which misplaced all of it by the point I used to be 43. It is a very tough panorama if you’re 43 years outdated and also you suppose ‘I’ve bought to try this once more.’
“You notice that if you’re youthful you don’t have any worry — you have not failed but. You will have that overwhelming feeling that ‘in fact I will succeed.'”
READ: Ladies make historical past in profitable Volvo Ocean Race crew
Edwards went on to work for the Baby Exploitation and On-line Safety Heart and returned to college to finish a psychology diploma.
“It is one thing I would by no means have accomplished if I hadn’t of been disillusioned with the crusing world. I helped write the 2009 decision on the UN Conference of the Rights of the Baby which isn’t one thing I had deliberate to do!”
Maiden discovered rotting within the Seychelles
Then, in 2014, Maiden reentered Edwards life — after she discovered it was rotting away within the Seychelles — an archipelago of islands within the Indian Ocean off East Africa.
“She’d been there for 2 years already — unbelievable,” Edwards says. “This man who left her there did not inform me.”
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Members of the general public who acknowledged Maiden because the yacht that sailed into the historical past books in 1990 contacted Edwards to inform her of the yachts’ dilapidated state. It was when a naval officer reached out to her and stated they have been speaking about deep-sixing it that she knew she needed to do one thing, so she turned to crowdfunding and in 2016 repurchased Maiden.
“She was within the water, not lifted out or something, they usually hadn’t actually sorted her. We beat them down on the worth loads after we bought there and thought ‘that is really a wreck, that is not a ship.’
“Bringing her again was simply terrible as a result of we have been our work — our names have been nonetheless on the lockers, the navigation station was similar to I would walked out and left it — it had all of the outdated tools.”
Maiden returned to Southampton, on the south coast of England, the place a year-long restoration started — in the exact same shed the place Edwards and her crew again in 1989 labored on the yacht earlier than the Whitbread race. Edwards and Maiden can also be the topic of a function size documentary, directed by BAFTA award-winning director Alex Holmes.
Edwards has launched into new chapter of her life — this time with “The Maiden Issue” — a not-for-profit group that entails Maiden occurring a three-year world tour to boost cash and consciousness for women’ entry to training. The tour started in September.
Edwards says it dawned on her when she was finishing her diploma that she was privileged sufficient to dwell in a rustic the place training was obtainable to all.
“I used to be handed an training on a plate (at 15) and I made a decision ‘no, I already know every part and I am simply going to throw that again in your face.'”
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In response to UNESCO estimates printed in 2016, 130 million women between the ages of six and 17 are denied an training.
“The entire focus (of The Maiden Issue) is empowerment of girls, celebrating the place we bought to and acknowledge the right way to get a bit additional ahead,” Edwards says.
In early August she additionally
walked away with the Lendy Women Day trophy at Lendy Cowes Week for her efforts and for championing the function of girls in crusing.
“The whole lot about it feels actually good,” Edwards says of the three-year world tour. “Maiden is inspirational, she modified my life and I believe a lot of the crew would most likely say the identical factor.
“We are able to encourage different ladies and women and get individuals contain and really visibly exhibit one thing nobody believed in.”
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Nearly 30 years after she and her crew made historical past, Edwards says she’s solely now starting to understand every part she’s completed.
“For the primary time in my life I am happy with every part we achieved,” she says, “and it is taken me loads time to get there.”
The brand new documentary movie – MAIDEN – was launched by Dogwoof on March 8.