Maybe not a documentary for those prone to seasickness or weary sea-legs, Maiden is an in-the-moment recollection of the first all-female yacht to compete in the Whitbread Round the World Yacht Race. Using talking-heads interviews of the women crew members, plus their male adversaries, along with video footage shot on their odyssey, it’d be hard not to be inspired by such a tale.
When Tracy Edwards decided to put together her own boat crew for this competition, she soon found an unending assortment of challenging work and issues, even before she got into the water – finding a crew, raising the money, reworking an old yacht to be sea-worthy again – Maiden doesn’t shy away from some of the initial details.
It’s lucky that so much footage was shot on their yacht, as plenty of it is used to maximise the drama of this life-challenging voyage. It may be grainy low-res videotape footage, but it doesn’t lessen how effectively it brings the audience right into the excitement, the terror, the freedom, the boredom, and the purposefulness.
Although Tracy and her crew are introduced at the documentary’s beginning, there’s unfortunately very little said or shown about each of their roles and responsibilities on the yacht, so we’re given little idea as to how the mechanics of the yacht and the crew operate in the varying sea conditions.
One crew member in her talking-heads hindsight interview complains that their male contemporaries were asked questions about the technical aspects of sailing, whereas they were asked simple-minded questions about if their gender affected them as sailors. This documentary could’ve implemented her complaint wisely and spent more time listing the responsibilities of each crew member, the regular tasks that had to be accomplished (so non-sailor audiences could understand the significance of what we’re being shown) and how it relates to the technology of their boat, instead of spending that time reiterating the battle-of-the-sexes theme.
Although lacking in portraying exactly how the individuals add up to a team, Maiden does succeed as a thrilling documentary that makes good use of the incredible on-the-boat footage. It makes this inspiring tale of defiance in the face of adversity all the more gripping to watch, even if the inspiration here isn’t adding a whole lot new to this ‘make your wild dreams come true’ brand of documentaries.
Maiden plays at UWA Somerville from Monday, March 11 to Sunday, March 17, 7:30pm.