Why Tracy Is Being Drawn Once Again to the Cruel Price

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), July 26, 1998 | Go to article overview

Why Tracy Is Being Drawn Once Again to the Cruel Price


Byline: GERAINT PRICE

TO a lesser woman it would have spelt the end . . . but Tracy Edwards was determined her spirit would not be broken.

Just four months after her attempt to break the world record for circumnavigating the globe ended in failure in the Southern Ocean, she is aiming to raise [pounds sterling]10 million to take on the world's best sailors in a new challenge to mark the Millennium.

It will be known simply as The Race. At the stroke of midnight on December 31 at the end of the year 2000, a fleet of yachts will sail out of the Straits of Gibraltar and embark on the ultimate test of endurance.

The challenge will pit human wits and mettle against nature ...a non-stop circumnavigation of the globe across some of the loneliest and most dangerous waters on the planet in the fastest sailing vessels ever built.

It is a daunting prospect for any sailor, and particularly so for Tracy after her most recent attempt so nearly ended in disaster when the mast and mainsail of her yacht were smashed by 40ft waves, leaving her thousands of miles from land. But she simply cannot escape her fascination with the sea.

'When our last attempt failed, my first thought wasn't for my own life,' she recalls, 'but for the record we were attempting to break. That shocked me at the time but all the other girls felt the same way.

'I have a burning desire to break records and compete. Yachting has given me the perfect outlet for this competitive urge. I found the right path when I discovered sailing and was lucky enough to be able to recognise it.

'I really love sailing with women.

We enjoy the camaraderie, the conversations. We're all different nationalities, so we talk about our different cultures, about governments and politics.

'I am a feminist. I believe in equality for women - and sailing should be a sport in which women are equal to men. We have to try so much harder to achieve that. As a result of

sailing I am a more independent and tenacious person.

'It makes you very single-minded and focused. You are also unwilling to have people in authority telling you what to do.' Tracy first emerged as a force to be reckoned with in 1990 when her yacht Maiden, with an all-female crew, scored two victories in the Whitbread Round the World Challenge.

Now, at 35, she has plans for a 120ft multi-hulled yacht capable of more than 40 knots. Designed and built by Nigel Irens - who constructed her previous vessel - it is expected to go into production in January and take nine months to build.

Sea trials will last a further two months and then it will take another year to get the crew accustomed to the new boat.

The Race is being touted as the most ambitious sailing event ever staged.

Sponsored by the Disney Corporation, 10 invited teams will compete - and again Tracy will skipper the only all-female crew.

On February 3 this year she led an all-woman team in a bid to win the Jules Verne trophy for breaking the round the world sailing record.

She gambled her life savings and

her reputation on that challenge, but 43 days and 15,200 miles later her chances were wrecked by gale-force winds and mountainous seas.

Her catamaran, the Royal & SunAlliance, was virtually smashed to pieces. …

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