by Lizzie Ward
Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta and Reunion 2011, to be held in Alicante (Spain) from 1 to 5 November, is the first official reunion for veterans of the world’s premier ocean race.
Volvo Ocean Race Legends 2011 latest ambassador Tracy Edwards
Tracy Edwards, the first woman to lead an all-female crew in the Whitbread Round the World Race 1989-90, has been named an Ambassador.
Edwards and her crew of Maiden won two of the six legs in their class including the spectacular route through the notorious Southern Ocean from Punta del Este to Fremantle, a leg which cost the life of Tony Philips from Creighton’s Naturally.
The team attracted attention far in excess of their rivals, both before and after the race. Edwards herself overcame incredible odds to bring the Maiden project together. Although Clare Francis had been the first female skipper with ADC Accutrac in 1977-78, and many other women had taken part in the event, the crews had always been mixed and there was a widely expressed view that women did not have the sheer physical strength necessary to compete.
There was much scepticism before the race started and no early major sponsorship was offered. Determined to compete, Edwards sold her house to buy the run-down 58’ (17.7m) Disque d’Or III, Pierre Fehlmann’s entry in the 1981-82 race and refit her to take part in 1989-90.
Sponsorship from Royal Jordanian Airlines came at the last minute, and the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson became ‘godmother’ to the boat and christened her ‘Maiden’ at a ceremony on the banks of the River Hamble on the south coast of England. When Maiden won arguably the toughest leg of the course on both corrected and elapsed time, the sceptics were silenced in the most effective way possible.
Maiden went on to win her class in leg three, finishing second overall in her division. This was the best result for a British boat since 1977 and Edwards became the first woman to win the Yachtsman of the Year Award in its 36-year history. In 1990 Edwards was named Sportswoman of the Year and presented with an MBE.
Edwards will be joining other Legend Ambassadors: Lady Pippa Blake, Magnus Olsson, Sir Chay Blyth CBE, BEM, and Skip Novak.
Entries in the Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta and Reunion
1. Copernicus 1973-74 (45’ sloop: the smallest boat ever to race)
2. Great Britain II/Whitbread Heritage (Maxi ketch - took part in the first five races
3. Rothmans 1989-90 (Maxi sloop)
4. Berge Viking 1981-82 (Swan 57)
5. Charles Jourdan 1989-90 (Maxi sloop)
6. Steinlager 2 1989-90 (Maxi Ketch)
7. Gauloises III 1981-82 (62’ Sloop) sailed by the French crew of Grand Louis/Japy-Hermes and Kriter IX
8. Traité de Rome 1977-78 and 1981-82 (51’ aluminium sloop)
9. Adventure/Dasher 1973-74 and 1977-78 (Nicholson 55’)
The official Notice of Race and entry form is available for download together with full information on how to take part and a preliminary schedule of events.
Volvo Ocean Race Legends Regatta website