Winners, left to right, Tracy Edwards, Nikki Henderson, Sir Robin Knox-Johnston and Emily Mueller, Young Sailor of the Year – photos YJA.
It was an unprecedented result for the YJA Yachtsman of the Year for 2018 when for the first time in over 60 years with a tie, and the award presented to joint winners, Tracy Edwards and Nikki Henderson.
Nikki Henderson made history when at 24 she was the youngest ever skipper to compete in the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race. By finishing in second place to Australian Wendy Tuck, she secured an all-female one-two.
Nikki mentioned the recognition of female sailors: “It is a step in the right direction. I think it is important to recognise that the Clipper Race aspect isn’t just about the female skippers winning, but also the fact that almost half the crews are women. It is a really good example that the sport should not be all male; it should – and can be – a 50:50 mixed sport. I think that is what we really need to push for.”
Tracy Edwards, who inspired a generation of women as the skipper of the first all-female crew to compete in the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1988/89, has now extensively restored the yacht Maiden to play the central role in the Maiden Factor campaign to raise awareness of the education of girls worldwide.
A new generation of highly talented all-female crew members, including Nikki Henderson, are sailing Maiden on a world tour with over 23 destinations in 13 countries, flying the flag for girls’ education, working with local charities and supporting community-led educational projects.
Tracy said on receiving the award for the second time: “It’s very surreal. The first time I won the trophy I didn’t know what it was as I wasn’t really part of the racing or sailing world! It was amazing, and I thought at the time that it was very forward-thinking, very visionary, of the Yachting Journalists’ Association to award it, considering the flak they had given us getting to the start line. To win it again is extraordinary, because amazing women like Nikki and other fantastic female sailors are out there, but I think Maiden did play a part in that, so we’ve come full circle. I think that what Nikki, Wendy [Tuck] and Dee [Caffari], and other girls like Emily here, are doing – it is the future, and it is really important so that means a lot to me.”