Maiden crew arrive into Auckland after successful sail from Cape Town. Credit: OGR2023/Aida Valceanu.

Maiden crew arrive into Auckland after successful sail from Cape Town. Credit: OGR2023/Aida Valceanu.

Maiden Triumphant Taking IRC Gold in McIntyre Ocean Globe Race


22/04/2024 - 16:40

Maiden UK (03) has won the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race taking first in IRC handicap rankings against a 14 strong fleet of very experienced and committed sailors. They have also been written into the history books as the first ever all-women crew to win an around the world yacht race.

The former Whitbread yacht, sailed by an all-female international crew has taken the coveted title after 153d 2h 16m 53s of racing around the world. Virtually none of the crew had previously faced such an epic challenge and only one had sailed in the Southern Ocean before.

They crossed the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes finish line at 10:52 UTC, 16th April, in a haze of excitement having sailed 6599 nm from Punta del Este on leg 4 of the OGR, making it look easy, when all knew it was not.

It has been a tense wait for the girls over the past few days to watch if second placed entrant on IRC, French yacht TRIANA, could reach the finish line early enough to beat them on handicap, but that is now impossible.

The crew has won fans worldwide and have impressed with their dedication to spreading their message of education for all women, their consistent work ethic and their unquestionable skills on the water. They’ve faced squalls, broken watermakers forcing them to collect rainwater, blown spinnakers and unraveling Abba cassette tapes. They’ve crossed the equator twice, taking in the three Great Capes including Cape Horn. Maiden now returns to her Southampton home waters ready for retirement in as good a shape as the day she left 218 previously. All this was done in the spirit of the McIntyre OGR, sailing like it’s 1973.

Skipper Heather Thomas, the youngest skipper in the fleet, spoke of her pride in taking first place.

“It’s very exciting to be the first all-female crew to win an around the world race. It’s a historic moment. The girls have worked really hard for it and we’re very proud of our achievement. We have the best crew and the best boat so what can I say! To those we raced against it’s been a pleasure to get to know them and we’re going to miss them. It’s been an incredible first OGR and I hope the ones that follow are as good. Maiden won’t do the next one, but I will. ”


Heather has said from race start they were “in it to win it”, something they achieved while consistently ranking in the top half of the fleet. In Leg 1 they came in third in line honours and IRC. In Leg 2, fourth in both line honours and IRC and Leg 3, Auckland to Punta del Este, second in line honours and 4th in IRC.

She speaks very highly of her talented crew, hailing from the UK, Antigua, USA, South Africa, France and Afghanistan. Heather describes being a tight-knit team, with first mate Rachel Burgess, as one of Maiden’s main strengths.
“We work together so well. Everyone brings something to the team, without this we wouldn’t achieve what we do. ”


Don McIntyre, OGR Founder, speaks about his delight at the Maiden success.
“Every one of the 220 sailors who have sailed, or who are still sailing today in this OGR has a story and did it for special reasons. Now their lives will be changed forever, none more so than the crew of Maiden with this beautiful and historic win against some very serious teams. This OCEAN GLOBE RACE is a story about humans recreating the early Whitbread races and for the first time in 30 years, giving ordinary sailors a chance to race around the world in classic yachts. To see Maiden recreate their glorious Whitbread history and WIN the OGR is and will always be an inspiration to many. BRAVO indeed!!  

What an absolutely stunning victory for skipper Heather and this eclectic mix of international girls and skills onboard Maiden. Wow!  They have embraced this OGR adventure at every level, performing on the water, facing completely unknown Southern Ocean challenges with courage and determination and representing their cause like real champions – In ports they were the perfect ambassadors for life, embracing every day and every minute with true passion. We loved them!  ”

It’s fitting that Maiden should take the McIntyre Ocean Globe-winning title with her poignant Whitbread history. Designed by Bruce Farr, the 58-foot aluminum hulled yacht came fourth in the 1981-82 Whitbread, known then as Disque D’Or 3. She was then renamed Stabilo Boss for the 1986-87 BOC single-handed challenge coming seventh. In 1987 she was bought by Tracy Edwards MBE, who made headlines in the 1989 Whitbread skippering the iconic yacht around the world with an all-female crew.

The final prize giving and presentation of the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race winners trophy, hosted by TRANSLATED 9, will be in Rome Italy on the 21st June 2024. There are currently seven McIntyre OGR entrants still racing toward the finish line.

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