You don't need to be a keen sailor to enjoy Alex Holmes documentary on Tracy Edwards, the British sailor who skippered the first all-female international crew in the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race.
Thanks to my father, an avid sailor, we always kept track of the Whitbread race and would visit Auckland's viaduct to see the boats once they'd come in. Even as kids, we knew this was a dangerous, thrilling adventure like no other.
I can remember being excited when Maiden came into Auckland, but couldn't remember what happened after the race moved on. That's a good thing, as this is a thrilling story filled with heart-warming ups and anxiety-inducing downs, and it's fun to relive it unsure how the story ends.
Edwards and her crew are interviewed in the present day, and their stories come to life through archival media footage (great to hear Pete Montgomery in action) and home video footage from on the boat. It's a simple structure but works brilliantly because the interviewees are very open – it's a warts and all account.
Edwards, in particular, is an interesting character. You get the feeling she didn't really have the experience to navigate and skipper a yacht over 33,000 nautical miles around the world, but she had determination in spades. The huge effort to get the boat to the start line came at a cost, with Edwards battling self-doubt, anxiety and exhaustion throughout the entire venture.
What makes the story so compelling is not only how these women defied the odds to get a boat in the water, but how competitive in the race they were. What started as a feminist (Edwards hates this word) cry for women to sail in the Whitbread, turned into a serious competition. They wanted to win, but it wasn't until they crossed the line they realised what their participation meant to the world, and watching this moment still brings a tear to the eye.
The amusement is provided by the game British journalists who completely wrote Maiden off (one called them "tits in a tin") but were prepared to go on camera and admit they got it wrong. Just a little.
M (Offensive language)
An inspirational yarn.