You’re not strong enough. Not skilled enough. You will die.

That’s what the all-female sailing crew aboard the Maiden was told in 1989 as they embarked on a 32,000-nautical-mile race around the world – the first dozen females to set out for such a feat.

Captaining the boat was Tracy Edwards, a 26-year old from England determined to break barriers and stereotypes. The journey has resurfaced this year in the newly released documentary “Maiden” showing in Marina del Rey on Thursday, Sept. 12. Edwards was in Los Angeles this week for the screening and to earn special recognition from the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors.

Edwards and her all-female crew had no idea during their milestone entry in the Whitbread Round-the-World Yacht Race that they would become icons and role models for women around the globe.

“It wasn’t within our scope of thought. I think we hoped we’d make changes in sailing for women and we would open a few doors, that was our intention,” Edwards said. “But I don’t think we fully understood the impact Maiden would have on so many women.”

Looking back 30 years ago, it wasn’t the wild ocean – or even when their hull broke and they had to scramble to fix it before the boat sank – that struck fear in their hearts. It was not making it to the finish line that struck fear in their hearts.

“We were aware we were in dangerous situations, there’s an anxiety that goes around that,” Edwards said. “The fear for me was the failure.”

But they succeeded, besting some of the men teams in their class along the way.

Edwards said she doesn’t know what made her 26-year-old self so determined to take on the men at the time.

“I think I was a bit of an idiot, one disaster to another,” she said with a chuckle. “Then to watch myself on the screen, I seem to be quite together at age 26, saying profound things.

“I still don’t know, and can’t put my finger on, what it was that kept her going,” Edwards said. “You grow older, you understand yourself. I just don’t really understand where that came from. And maybe I never will.”

It’s only now, when women come up to her to say they remember the accomplishment and how it inspired them, that Edwards said she understands the impact the crew of the Maiden had.

“We’re only now coming to terms with the ripple effect that happened afterwards,” she said.

Part of that has come with the film retelling the Maiden story.

Filmmaker Alex Holmes, who worked on the documentary for four years, first came across Edwards when the sailor was giving a speech at Holmes’ daughter’s elementary school.

“I was struck not only by the power of the story, but by Tracy’s passion and commitment,” Holmes wrote in a recap of the film. “And I knew straight away that I wanted to make a film that celebrated her achievement.

“Maiden is a film about guts and the power of determination, about how, when we are allowed to believe in ourselves, great things are possible,” Holmes said. “It’s the story of a young girl who dared to dream and of a team that came together to challenge chauvinism and set an example to the world.”

By the time the women finished the around-the-world race, which started and finished in Southampton, England, they had “shocked, inspired and transfixed the sailing world and the British nation,” a recap of the film reads.

Edwards was awarded the 1990 Yachtsman of the Year Award, the first woman ever to receive the accolade. She was also named a Member of the Order of the British Empire.

“In many areas of life, prejudice and chauvinism still hold sway,” Holmes wrote of the relevance today of the Maiden’s story. “But hopefully this film will help remind us that whoever we are, male or female, we should chase our dreams, even if it appears we are up against insurmountable odds.”

Janice Hahn, chair of the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors, gave a presentation on Tuesday, Sept. 10, about the documentary and Edwards’ milestones out on the open ocean.

“During the race they were disrespected by their fellow sailors and talked down to by the media,” Hahn said at the meeting. “At one point, a hole opened up the hull of their boat. But Tracy and her crew were unstoppable and they ended up inspiring millions.”

The Maiden’s story isn’t yet over. It sailed last week from San Francisco to Marina del Rey and is now getting ready to embark on a new adventure with a crew of women sailing it around the world to raise awareness and money for girls’ education.

The goal is to sail the recently refurbished ship to 32 destinations in 17 countries, with Edwards leading the project.

“It’s just a wonderful circle of life,” she said. “I’m blown away to be a part of it.”

Equality in sailing has come a long way, but like many other areas of society, still has a long way to go, said Edwards, now 57 and living in London.

“We’re not there yet. I think that it’s the same with any arena – film, art, business,” she said. “Women are still battling, still fighting.”

She said she finds hope in the men, many times fathers of daughters, who thank her for her accomplishments. There are a lot of men, she said, “that know equality is key. It’s key to everything.”

When she speaks to the younger generation, Edwards said there’s one piece of advice she gives: Keep moving forward.

“There’s two certainties. If you stand still, nothing is going to happen. If you keep moving forward, it doesn’t matter if you’re going in the wrong direction, something will happen,” she said. “It might not be the right thing, but it can take you somewhere else. Keep yourself open to the universe. Sometimes I end up where I don’t want to be, but it opens another door. Don’t stand still.”

The documentary screening will be at 7 p.m. at Burton Chase Park in Marina del Rey. It is put on by the Department of Beaches and Harbors. The event is free, and will have a Q & A afterward with Edwards.

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