Tracy Edwards Whitbread Success Story
By Samuel Barson
The opening seconds of Maiden has the audience in the middle of a vast, raging ocean, rocking up and down with the waves as they breath in and out. It’s a thrilling start to a documentary, but unfortunately this same level of engagement doesn’t last.
Alex Holmes’ Maiden tells the story of Tracy Edwards, who at 24 rose the ranks from charter boat cook to skipper of the first ever all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World Race.
The documentary accounts not only the Whitbread adventure itself, but also the rampant sexism that proved to be just as gruelling for Edwards and her crew. The film, at its core, is a story of women pitted against equal forces of nature and human nature. And unfortunately, this ground-breaking story succumbs to what I found to be director Alex Holme’s frustratingly simplistic approach to storytelling.
For 1.5 hours audiences are taken through Edward’s story from childhood, to up-and-coming skipper, to Whitbread success story, all the while battling all too eager chauvinism from male sports journalists and fellow sailors. It seems unlikely that there would be limited research material to draw upon with a story such as this, however the material that audiences are provided is incredibly scant.
The anecdotes from interviews are often recycled and the archival footage is regularly irrelevant to it’s corresponding voiceover section, and I found I became easily irritated that a story that is clear to be so rich in detail, is not being told in the way that it deserves.
It’s such a shame that director Alex Holmes missed an opportunity here to provide a louder voice to female unity as a statement against sexism in sport and evoke the same undeniable spirit of the story’s subjects.
Maiden is showing at limited cinemas from Thursday 17th October.
Photography courtesy of the Toronto International Film Festival