Yacht Maiden Inspires Junior Sailors

Maiden, a 58 foot ocean racing sailboat, made one of her world-tour stops at Oyster Bay NY during the week of July 11, 2022. Maiden was the craft that Dawn Riley, Executive Director of Oakcliff Sailing Center, sailed in during the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989-1990 with an all female crew. The yacht is currently touring around the world to fundraise for girls educational charity programs chosen by the Maiden team. In addition to fundraising, the Maiden “inspires and empowers women and girls to reach their potential through education and brings awareness of gender inequality, specifically disenfranchised women and girls globally with no access to education, to give them the fighting chance they deserve.”  

Tracy Edwards, the skipper of Maiden during the Round the World Race, deeply cared about the rights of girls’ education and took the initiative to restore Maiden to make a difference with this social justice issue. Edwards created a nonprofit, The Maiden Factor Foundation, to raise awareness for this cause and fundraise for worldwide community programs that enable girls to have access to education through their teenage years. 

Nearby junior sailing programs from the Junior Sailing Association of the Long Island Sound brought their young sailors to visit Maiden during her Oyster Bay visit. 

Sagamore Junior Sailors with Maiden crew member

“The crew brought us aboard with welcoming arms,” Jonathan Dynda, Head Instructor at Sagamore Junior Sailing said. The crew shared Maiden’s story with the kids and gave them a tour of the boat. “They first started to tell the kids the history of the Maiden, from how old the boat was, to how they were able to buy back the ship and restore it to its original condition. Then they decided to take a few kids at a time down below deck. They made everyone wear a mask as a safety precaution. From there, we could see each crew’s individual bunk bed and personal items. For instance, one of the crew members had a wakeboard. After that we could see how clean and organized the top of the deck was. It was super neat with a lot of different halyards and sails. From what I remember, they told us that they had over 11 different sails,” Jonathan Dynda shared. 

Junior sailors from Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club also enjoyed the special trip to visit Maiden. Brian Reilly, Seawanhaka’s Sailing Director, said that their Optimist, Club 420 and Adventure sailors toured Maiden.  “Many of our Opti and 420 race team sailors had watched the Maiden movie and did not hesitate to jump on this opportunity. Our Adventure sailors were amazed by the stories of Maiden sailing all the way around the world.” In addition to the tour, Brian Reilly said, “all of the Seawanhaka sailors who went to see Maiden took the opportunity to have hands-on experience turning the pedestal winches. Seeing how excited and engaged our sailors were, Dawn made sure to give our sailors a full tour of Oakcliff’s facilities.” 

Dawn Riley shared her experience with the young sailors visiting, “The ones who were crazy interested could not believe that there was a toilet on a boat, and there were a lot of other fun reactions. It seems funny to say, but they connected with ‘history’ and it opened their eyes to some opportunities.”

Maiden’s next stop after Oyster Bay was Mystic Connecticut. Fisher Island Yacht Club’s youth sailing coach, Lily Flack, brought her junior sailors to visit Maiden and shared her thoughts about the experience. “The qualities of the Maiden Factor embodies our youth sailing program in many ways, and we are lucky our kids got the chance to see that. This opportunity gave our sailors the chance to ask questions and meet some of the amazing and talented crew aboard. Most importantly, the tour aboard Maiden inspired so many of our female sailors to aspire toward bigger boats and longer distances.”

Fisher Island Yacht Club’s Junior Sailors aboard Maiden

Prior to the Oyster Bay stopover, Maiden had visited the American Yacht Club in Rye NY to spread awareness about the Maiden Factor mission. 

American Yacht Club’s youngest sailors, known as Harbor Heros, greeting Maiden upon her arrival to AYC.

As stated on The Maiden Factor’s website, “The Maiden Factor aims to increase its significant impact by reaching millions of girls, their families and communities in countries around the world in order to reshape perceptions of female education, roles and aspirations. Key issues such as gender parity, the empowerment of women, closing the gender pay gap, supporting and enabling women to play key roles in business, climate change, gender equality, eco-feminism and STEM subjects. Everybody has a responsibility for making a positive difference for the future.”

If you are interested in learning more about The Maiden Factor’s mission to educate girls, check out their website here: https://www.themaidenfactor.org/.