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  • Being able to navigate is an extraordinary gift,

  • and there is nothing like it in the world.

  • I get no more sense of satisfaction greater than leaving a port

  • and knowing that I can get my team and my boat

  • safely from that port to another port,

  • maybe three, four, five, six thousand miles away.

  • Being at sea, for me, is ...

  • it's total freedom,

  • and it is the ultimate opportunity to be you,

  • because you can't be anything else.

  • You are naked in front of your peers on a boat.

  • It is a small area.

  • Maiden is 58 feet long.

  • There's 12 women in a 58-foot boat.

  • I mean, you are literally up against each other,

  • and so you have to be you.

  • The greatest moment for me when I'm sailing

  • is the moment that the land disappears.

  • It's an indescribable moment of --

  • (Gasps)

  • adventure and no turning back,

  • and just you and the boat and the elements.

  • I wish everyone could experience this at least once in their lives.

  • The further you get away from land,

  • the more you kind of fit into yourself.

  • It is you,

  • how do we get to the next place,

  • how do we stay alive,

  • how do we look after each other

  • and what do we do to get to the other side.

  • So the question I get asked the most when I go and do talks

  • is "How do you become an ocean-racing sailor?"

  • And that's a really good question.

  • And I've always wanted to say "I had a vision,

  • which became a dream,

  • which became an obsession,"

  • but, of course, life's not like that,

  • and one thing I'm really anxious for people to know about me

  • is that my life hasn't gone from A to B --

  • because how many people can say their lives just go from A to B;

  • they think, "I'm going to do this," and they go and do it?

  • So I tell the truth.

  • And the truth is that I was expelled from school when I was 15 years old,

  • and my long-suffering headmaster sent a long-suffering note

  • to my long-suffering mother,

  • basically saying that if Tracy darkens these doors of the school again,

  • then we will call the police.

  • And my mum took me and she said,

  • "Darling, education is not for everyone."

  • And then she gave me the best piece of advice anyone has ever given me.

  • She said, "Every single one of us is good at something,

  • you just have to go and find what that is."

  • And at the age of 16, she let me go backpacking off to Greece.

  • I ended up working on boats, which was OK --

  • 17 years old, didn't really know what I wanted to do,

  • kind of going with the flow.

  • And then on my second transatlantic,

  • my skipper said to me, "Can you navigate?"

  • And I said, "Of course I can't navigate,

  • I was expelled before long division."

  • And he said, "Don't you think you should be able to navigate?

  • What happens if I fall over the side?

  • Stop being a bystander in your own life,

  • stop looking at what you're doing

  • and start taking part."

  • This day, for me, was the day that my whole life started.

  • I learned to navigate in two days --

  • and this is someone who hates numbers

  • and sees them as hieroglyphics.

  • It opened up avenues and opportunities to me that I could never have imagined.

  • I actually managed to get a ride on a Whitbread Round the World Race boat.

  • It was with 17 South African men and me.

  • I was 21 years old,

  • and it was the longest nine months of my life.

  • But I went as a cook,

  • I managed to survive until the end,

  • and when I got to end of this race,

  • I realized that there were 230 crew in this race,

  • and three women,

  • and I was one of them.

  • And I'm a lousy cook.

  • I'm a really good navigator.

  • I think the second most profound thought in my entire life was:

  • "No man is ever going to allow me to be a navigator on their boat, ever."

  • And that is still the case today.

  • In 35 years of the Whitbread,

  • there's only been two female navigators that haven't been on an all-female cruise,

  • and that's how Maiden was born.

  • That was the moment I thought, "I've got something to fight for."

  • And I had no idea that I wanted to have this fight,

  • and it was something that I took to like a duck to water.

  • I discovered things about myself that I had no idea existed.

  • I discovered I had a fighting spirit,

  • I discovered I was competitive --

  • never knew that before --

  • and I discovered my second passion,

  • which was equality.

  • I couldn't let this one lie.

  • And it became not just about me wanting to navigate on a boat

  • and having to put my own crew together

  • and my own team,

  • raise my own money, find my own boat,

  • so that I could be navigator.

  • This was about women everywhere.

  • And this was when I realized

  • that this was probably what I was going to spend the rest of my life doing.

  • It took ages for us to find the money

  • to do the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Race.

  • And as we looked at all the big,

  • multimillion pound, all-male projects around us,

  • with their brand-new shiny boats designed for the race,

  • we realized this was not going to be us.

  • We had to make this up as we went along.

  • No one had enough faith in us to give us this kind of money.

  • So I mortgaged my house,

  • and we found an old wreck with a pedigree,

  • an old Whitbread boat --

  • it had already been around the world twice --

  • in South Africa.

  • We somehow persuaded some guy to put it on a ship

  • and bring it back to the UK for us.

  • The girls were horrified at the state of the boat.

  • We got a free place in a yard.

  • We got her up on the hard and we redesigned her,

  • we ripped her apart,

  • we did all the work ourselves.

  • It was the first time that anyone had ever seen women in a shipyard,

  • so that was quite entertaining.

  • Every morning when we would walk in,

  • everyone would just gawk at us.

  • But it also had its advantages, because everyone was so helpful.

  • We were such a novelty.

  • You know, we got given a generator, an engine --

  • "Do you want this old rope?"

  • "Yep."

  • "Old sails?"

  • "Yep, we'll have those."

  • So we really made it up as we went along.

  • And I think, actually, one of the huge advantages we had was,

  • you know, there was no preconceived idea

  • about how an all-female crew would sail around the world.

  • So whatever we did was OK.

  • And what it also did was it drew people to it.

  • Not just women --

  • men, anyone who'd ever been told,

  • "You can't do something because you're not good enough" --

  • the right gender or right race or right color, or whatever.

  • Maiden became a passion.

  • And it was hard to raise the money --

  • hundreds of companies wouldn't sponsor us.

  • They told us that we couldn't do it,

  • people thought we were going to die ...

  • You know, guys would literally come up to me and say,

  • "You're going to die."

  • I'd think, "Well, OK, that's my business, it's not yours."

  • In the end, King Hussein of Jordan sponsored Maiden,

  • and that was an amazing thing --

  • way ahead of his time, all about equality.

  • We sailed around the world with a message of peace and equality.

  • We were the only boat in the race with a message of any kind.

  • We won two legs of the Whitbread --

  • two of the most difficult legs --

  • and we came second overall.

  • And that is still the best result for a British boat since 1977.

  • It annoyed a lot of people.

  • And I think what it did at the time --

  • we didn't realize.

  • You know, we crossed the finishing line, this incredible finish --

  • 600 boats sailing up the Solent with us;

  • 50,000 people in Ocean Village chanting "Maiden, Maiden" as we sailed in.

  • And so we knew we'd done something that we wanted to do

  • and we hoped we'd achieved something good,

  • but we had no idea at the time how many women's lives we changed.

  • The Southern Ocean is my favorite ocean.

  • Each ocean has a character.

  • So the North Atlantic is a yomping ocean.

  • It's a jolly, go-for-it, heave-ho type of --

  • have-fun type of ocean.

  • The Southern Ocean is a deadly serious ocean.

  • And you know the moment when you cross into the Southern Ocean --

  • the latitude and longitude --

  • you know when you're there,

  • the waves have been building,

  • they start getting big whitecaps on the top,

  • it becomes really gray,

  • you start to get sensory deprivation.

  • It is very focused on who you are and what you are

  • with this massive wilderness around you.

  • It is empty.

  • It is so big and so empty.

  • You see albatrosses swirling around the boat.

  • It takes about four days to sail through their territory,

  • so you have the same albatross for four days.

  • And they find us quite a novelty,

  • so they literally windsurf off the wind that comes off the mainsail

  • and they hang behind the boat,

  • and you feel this presence behind you,

  • and you turn around,

  • and it's this albatross just looking at you.

  • We sold Maiden at the end of the race --

  • we still had no money.

  • And five years ago, we found her,

  • at the same time as a film director decided

  • he wanted to make a documentary about Maiden.

  • We found Maiden,

  • she burst back into my life

  • and reminded me a lot of things I had forgotten, actually,

  • over the years,

  • about following my heart and my gut

  • and really being part of the universe.

  • And everything I find important in life,

  • Maiden has given back to me.

  • Again, we rescued her --

  • we did a Crowdfunder --

  • we rescued her from the Seychelles.

  • Princess Haya, King Hussein's daughter,

  • funded the shipping back to the UK and then the restoration.

  • All the original crew were involved.

  • We put the original team back together.

  • And then we decided, what are we going to do with Maiden?

  • And this, for me, really was the moment of my life

  • where I looked back on every single thing that I'd done --

  • every project, every feeling,

  • every passion, every battle, every fight --

  • and I decided that I wanted Maiden to continue that fight

  • for the next generation.

  • Maiden is sailing around the world on a five-year world tour.

  • We are engaging with thousands of girls all over the world.

  • We are supporting community programs that get girls into education.

  • Education doesn't just mean sitting in a classroom.

  • This, for me, is about teaching girls you don't have to look a certain way,

  • you don't have to feel a certain way,

  • you don't have to behave a certain way.

  • You can be successful,

  • you can follow your dreams

  • and you can fight for them.

  • Life doesn't go from A to B.

  • It's messy.

  • My life has been a mess from beginning to end,

  • but somehow I've got to where we're going.

  • The future for us and Maiden looks amazing.

  • And for me,

  • it is all about closing the circle.

  • It's about closing the circle with Maiden

  • and using her to tell girls