Micky Montoya is the OBR (onboard reporter) for The Austrian Ocean Race Project. He had the chance to come onboard Maiden during the crew’s preparation for the Caribbean 600, interview the crew and snap some shots. Follow Micky on Instagram at @mickymontoyafilms.
I first learned of Maiden while doing some research about the Caribbean 600. I read an article about how it was bought by Tracy Edwards in the late ’80s, who then filled the 58ft boat with an all-female crew for the Whitbread around the world race. Tracy and Maiden shocked the world; not only by competing but also by finishing the race in 2nd place in their class! Shortly after the race, the boat was sold.
Visiting Maiden was an experience I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. Much like visiting a historical site it is hard not to think of all that has been accomplished on that 58ft boat.
In 2014 Tracy Edwards received an email that Maiden was found in the Seychelles in pretty rough shape. Long story short the boat was refitted and currently sailing around the world. After reading the article my initial thought was “this should be a movie.” Then I found out it was made into a documentary. I also found out that Maiden would be competing in the Caribbean 600 which I was heading to! To that, I thought, “I’ll keep my eye out for it and hopefully get a couple shots of the historic ship”. Then I met Amalia, the OBR for Maiden! She was kind enough to invite me onboard to grab some pictures. Maiden was skippered by three-time Ocean Race sailor Liz Wardley who I had met prior at the TROAP christening of Sisi.
Visiting Maiden was an experience I will truly cherish for the rest of my life. Much like visiting a historical site it is hard not to think of all that has been accomplished on that 58ft boat. Once onboard I studied the deck for possible locations to shoot from. Coming from a VO65, which is pretty open and easy for me to move around, I instantly saw that Maiden would make me work for my pictures.
Suddenly, I totally forgot that I was on a female crewed boat. At that point, it was just sailing, and maybe that’s the point I really needed to grasp.
As we left the harbour, I saw the crew start preparations for the day of sailing. Liz at the helm giving commands which usually followed a quick humorous comment that would maintain the morale of the mostly female crew. The sails went up and we started to really move. Then I realised how different this boat was. I was used to going fast and being shaken by huge waves, but Maiden had her own way. As I struggled to move from the pit to the bow, as I felt every bit of water the hull hit making me shake at the knees. I saw Maiden’s crew move around with no issue as I clumsily sat down to snap some pictures.
As we gained speed, waves crashed over the bow and the bowman. I found a place near her and patiently waited for more waves. The bowman was waiting patiently as well, possibly annoyed by me holding a camera up at her. After grabbing a few pictures I looked back and saw Amalia moving around the deck like she was on solid land to take pictures. I decided to go near aft with much struggle. The day continued and I become more comfortable with my movement on deck. Don’t get me wrong I still resembled Bambi on ice, but there was a slight improvement for sure.
It was then that I lost myself, as I tend to do, in the lens of my camera. I shot and moved and shot again. I quickly said a joke and got a funny comment back from a crew member. I scrolled through the shots on my camera while chatting with someone on the grinder. Suddenly, I totally forgot that I was on a female crewed boat. At that point, it was just sailing, and maybe that’s the point I really needed to grasp. The sea doesn’t care who or what you are, the waves will crash and the wind will blow regardless. The thing is that I never have to identify myself as a male photographer. In fact, it just sounds silly saying it out loud.
So is it possible that the women onboard Maiden just want to sail without having the stigma of being a “female sailor” carries? Sure, back on land they are wives, girlfriends, daughter and sister who wear the status of being a woman with pride, but out at sea it is my impression that they just want to sail like anyone else. Tracy Edwards just wanted to sail and by doing it with Maiden on sailing’s biggest stage she cut a path that now is being widened by Maiden’s current crew.
All photographs in this blog are ©Micky Montoya, OBR for The Austrian Ocean Race Project