Here it goes. I grew up in a seaside town that has produced world calibre sailors. I used this handy connection to lounge about on boats, nip to hidden coves and generally fulfill idyllic teenage dreams. But I never really appreciated the skill and courage that it takes to enter into the ocean that never stops and doesn’t care for survival of anyone in it. Watching Maiden, the story of the all woman crew led by Tracy Edwards, who competed in the 1989 Whitbread Round the World Challenge has changed that. The crew fought not only the sea but abysmal misogyny in a system that favours those with corporate sponsorships and no one wants to buy stuff that women not in states of undress are selling right?
Turning a wreck of a boat into a seaworthy vessel named Maiden, they made it to the competition and still were not expected to make the first leg. This is the first documentary about the events and is a perfectly paced creation that mixes footage taken on the boat, archive with talking heads from the crew and those writing about the race. The ‘tarts in a tin’ persevered against prevailing winds and attitudes that stood in their way at almost every step.
The film does not shy away from showing disagreement and tensions amongst the crew and moments of real peril. To their credit the men interviewed do not attempt a revisionist version of their part, fully admitting to sexist attitudes and bring proven wrong. Brilliant composition of the material creates laugh out loud moments set against grief, fear and euphoric triumph.
Delving into back story enough to provide ideal context Alex Holmes has taken a remarkable story and made a remarkable film. Those who do not know about sailing have plenty to enjoy and those who do know will recognise the skill and ambition of the crew.
For more on the Glasgow Film Festival 2019 click here.