Podtalk: Tracy Edwards, Skipper & Subject of Documentary ‘Maiden’

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CHICAGO – In the pantheon of firsts, there are so many of them that fly under our radar. For every Rosa Parks, there are a number of women who take the challenge to make social change. In 1989, British-born Tracy Edwards became the first female skipper, guiding an all-female crew and sailboat in the prestigious Whitbread Around the World Race. Her story is told in “Maiden.”

Tracy Edwards in Chicago for ‘Maiden’
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald for HollywoodChicago.com

The new documentary, directed by Alex Holmes, tells Edward’s story, from teenage runaway to ship’s cook to skipper/navigator of Maiden, the sailboat that dared to challenge the sport’s patriarchy. The film is one of determination and inspiration, as Tracy gathered the best female team, who also wanted to show the sailing world their right stuff. The challenges to get to the starting line are well documented, including the purchasing and rebuilding of the boat that would be Maiden, with a little help from King Hussein of Jordan. Everything about Tracy Edward’s story is unpredictable and unprecedented, but also life affirming and revolutionary. She was 26 years old in 1989.

Today, as Tracey Edwards looks back – the doc is another unexpected benefit of her achievement – the skipper still has the steely-eyed determination that propelled her to legacy. She often goes around to schools and advocates for women/girl’s education and empowerment. She was making such a presentation when film producer Alex Holmes was in the audience. He called her the next day and eventually proposed the film. What started as a potential narrative became a documentary after Edwards told Holmes that the Maiden’s voyage was filmed on 1980s video by Joanna Gooding, Edwards lifelong friend and the cook on the boat. After searching for other footage from around the world, the documentary came together.

Tracy Edwards, Skipper of the Maiden, circa 1989
Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

In Part One of a Podtalk with Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com, Tracy Edwards – the skipper and subject of “Maiden” – reflects on learning her craft through a hodgepodge of determination, and her friendship with King Hussein of Jordan.

In Part Two, Skipper Edwards talks about advice she’d give to her younger self (it refers to a crew member), the teamwork of the dream and her definition of feminism.

“Maiden” continues its limited release in Chicago on July 12th. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring interviews with Tracy Edwards, and the crew of the Maiden. Directed by Alex Holmes. Rated “PG

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Editor and Film Writer

© 2019 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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