Today we’re going to take a look at a new documentary that chronicles the first all-women sailing crew to race around the world. This film has received rave reviews and if I find out where it’s playing at some point, I will definitely plan to see it.
The all-female crew aboard the Maiden in 1989 – Photo courtesy of Marie Claire magazine, July 2019
RACING 33,000 NAUTICAL MILES IN 1989
The regatta is named, “The Whitbread Round the World Race” and is a grueling journey that takes almost an entire year to complete. It starts in Southampton, England, goes down to Uruguay in South America and then to Australia, New Zealand and beyond, over the course of six punishing legs.
IT BEGINS WITH 24-YEAR-OLD TRACY EDWARDS
The film follows Edwards from the 1980s when she worked as a cook on charter sailboats. When she applied for work on a crew preparing to enter the Whitbread, she was told that, “girls are for when you get into port.” And, when she asked a skipper if she could join his crew he replied, “We’re not going to be the only racing team in the world with a girl.”
STARTING WITH MONEY TO FULFILL A DREAM
She spent her early twenties in a sea of men and observed that, “There’s 230 guys in this race having the time of their life and four gals. How can I change this?” Where there’s a will, there’s a way – so at the age of 26 Edwards took out a second mortgage on her home to help buy a 58-ft. boat that she named Maiden and staffed with a 12-member all-female crew.
The Maiden crew – Photo courtesy of Vanity Fair, Summer 2019
NAMED “YACHTSMAN OF THE YEAR IN 1990”
This remarkable voyage is chronicled in Maiden, a documentary from Sony Pictures Classics that was released this past summer. Edwards notes that, “I wasn’t just fighting the fight for me, it was for the next generation.” This wasn’t an easy task. One journalist described the crew as a “tin full of tarts” (that’s a class act) and others speculated they wouldn’t even finish the first leg. But, after notching some early victories in the race, fans greeted them at the pier chanting, “Maiden! Maiden! Maiden!”
NOW IT IS THIRTY YEARS LATER: IN A DIFFERENT WORLD
“What this documentary has done is allow us to be very proud of what we achieved,” says Edwards, now 56. “Define your own course and you will absolutely end up where you need to be.”
A Terrific Limited Series on TV
I’ve been meaning to mention this for weeks but could never seem to fit it in anywhere. So apologies for skipping from water to land – but here goes. In April/May of this year I watched all eight episodes (some more than once) of the Fosse/Verdon series on Tuesday nights and thought it was the best thing I’d seen in years.
Michelle Williams plays the actress and dancer, Gwen Verdon. She was nominated for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or TV Movie.” At the 71st Emmy Awards on Sunday, September 22, 2019 Williams won an Emmy for her performance and we all cheered – she was wonderful in the role.
Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse and Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon – Photo courtesy of Vanity Fair Awards Extra, 2019
Sam Rockwell plays Bob Fosse and he is spellbinding. I’d seen Fosse in person back in the day and when I first started watching Rockwell in his role – it was almost eerie – he really captured him. (He was nominated in the same category under “Outstanding Lead Actor”.)
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In the May 2020 issue of Smithsonian magazine I came across an intriguing article titled, “A Half-Century of Trips,” written by Ted Scheinman, (a writer and scholar based in Southern California). This features a subhead that reads, “Americans have steadily become more dedicated travelers, despite historic setbacks.”
This is the first thing I saw when perusing the 50th anniversary issue of the Smithsonian magazine for April 2020. This eye-opening 10-page article (with spectacular photos) is titled, “The Ship in the Ice” and concerns a topic we’ve all been hearing about for years, e.g., global warming.
The pandemic this year has affected all of us in many ways. Two things that stand out in my mind: people definitely need people (to paraphrase the song “People” sung by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl). The phone, email, computer, TV and all the other digital creations we use DO NOT take the place of human interaction. We all need to see and talk to each other. That said we have also learned that we can work at home very efficiently and handle our normal workload if necessary. Never commute again? I don’t think that will happen, but perhaps we’ll find a happy medium – time will tell.
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