AN ALL-female crew skippered by a British sailor triumphantly crossed the finish line at the Isle of Wight having completed the round the world Ocean Globe Race 2023.

The 13-strong crew, made up of international sailors — five of them Britons and skippered by Heather Thomas, from Otley, West Yorkshire — completed the race aboard their yacht, Maiden, in choppy conditions on The Solent 10.52am this morning (Tuesday), after 218 days' racing.

Tracy Edwards, skipper of the boat in the 1989-90 race and director of The Maiden Factor Foundation, an organisation dedicated to the education of women and girls, said: “We are so proud of this talented and courageous, international all-female crew who have battled extremely unusual weather conditions around the world with only a sextant and paper charts!”

Isle of Wight County Press: Some of Maiden’s original crew met the new Maiden crew before the start of the race.Some of Maiden’s original crew met the new Maiden crew before the start of the race. (Image: Kaia Bint Savage/The Maiden Factor/PA)

The 2023-24 Ocean Globe Race, which marks the 50th anniversary of the first edition of the Whitbread Round the World Race, featured 14 boats representing eight countries.

Setting sail from Cowes last September, crews travelled more than 27,000 nautical miles — as far as Auckland in New Zealand — stopping in three continents, all without the use of modern technology.

The Ocean Globe Race comprised four legs, with boats racing from Cowes to Cape Town, Auckland, and Punta del Este, Uruguay, before returning to England.

The event marks a break in Maiden’s world tour, which began in September 2021, having covered 30,000 nautical miles, visiting 20 destinations, as part of The Maiden Factor’s mission to educate, empower and elevate girls — including raising money to fund girls’ educational projects around the world.

Maiden skipper, Heather Thomas, said: “I have very mixed emotions at the moment, but what an amazing welcome we’ve had coming into Cowes.

"We’re all really happy and think we achieved our goal of showcasing what women can do and inspire the next generation.

"With the amazing role models we have on the boat I think we achieved that. The leg itself didn’t go so well but overall, we are very, very happy.”

Maiden was part of this year’s Ocean Globe Race’s Flyer Class, for yachts previously entered in the 1973, 1977 or 1981 Whitbread Round the World Race, or of ‘relevant’ historic significance.

In 1989, Maiden became the first boat with an all-female crew to participate in the Whitbread Round the World Race — the predecessor to the Ocean Globe Race — which was staged every four years until 1998.

Isle of Wight County Press: Maiden's crew celebrate reaching Cowes.Maiden's crew celebrate reaching Cowes. (Image: Tim Bishop/PPL)

This year’s competition has preserved the spirit of the historic races, with crews circumnavigating the globe without the use of satellites, GPS or computers.

Instead, they used sextants, paper maps and celestial navigation to complete the journey, with four boats forced to retire over the course of the race.