Stop being a bystander in your own life
So the question I get asked the most when I go and do talks is "How do you become an ocean-racing sailor?"And that's a really good question.
And I've always wanted to say "I had a vision, which became adream, which became an obsession," but, of course, life's not like that.and one thing I'm really anxious for people to know about me is that my life hasn't gone from A to B, because how many people can say their lives just go from A to B.
They think, "I'm going to do this," and they go and do it? So I tell the truth. And the truth is that I was expelled from school when I was 15 years old, and my long-suffering headmaster sent a long-suffering note to my long-suffering mother, basically saying that if Tracy darkens these doors of the school again, then we will call the police. And my mum took me and she said, "Darling, education is not for everyone."
And then she gave me the best piece of advice anyone has ever given me. She said, "Every single one of us is good at something, you just have to go and find what that is." And at the age of 16, she let me go backpacking off to Greece.
I ended up working on boats, which was OK -- 17 years old, didn't really know what I wanted to do, kind of going with the flow. And then on my second transatlantic, my skipper said to me, "Can you navigate?"
And I said, "Of course I can't navigate, I was expelled before long division." And he said, "Don't you think you should be able to navigate? What happens if I fall over the side? Stop being a bystander in your own life, stop looking at what you're doing and start taking part."
This day, for me, was the day that my whole life started. I learned to navigate in two days -- and this is someone who hates numbers and sees them as hieroglyphics. It opened up avenues and opportunities to me that I could never have imagined.
I actually managed to get a ride on a Whitbread Round the World Race boat. It was with 17 South African men and me. I was 21 years old, and it was the longest nine months of my life. But I went as a cook, I managed to survive until the end. And when I got to end of this race, I realized that there were 230 crew in this race, and three women, and I was one of them. And I'm a lousy cook. I'm a really good navigator.
实际上，我还有幸参与了Whitbread环球帆船赛。全程只有我和17个南非男人。我当时21岁，那是我一生中最漫长的9个月。不过我担任了船上的厨师，并成功生存到了最后 。当我结束这场比赛时，我发现这场比赛的230名工作人员中，只有三名女性，我就是其 中的一个。我是个糟糕的厨师。但却是一个非常好的领航员。
I think the second most profound thought in my entire life was: "No man is ever going to allow me to be a navigator on their boat, ever."
And that is still the case today. In 35 years of the Whitbread, there's only been two female navigators that haven't been on an all-female cruise, and that's how Maiden was born. That was the moment I thought, "I've got something to fight for."
And I had no idea that I wanted to have this fight, and it was something that I took to like a duck to water. I discovered things about myself that I had no idea existed. I discovered I had a fighting spirit, I discovered I was competitive -- never knew that before -- and I discovered my second passion, which was equality.
I couldn't let this one lie. And it became not just about me wanting to navigate on a boat and having to put my own crew together and my own team, raise my own money, find my own boat, so that I could be navigator. This was about women everywhere. And this was when I realized that this was probably what I was going to spend the rest of my life doing.
And I think, actually, one of the huge advantages we had was, there was no preconceived idea about how an all-female crew would sail around the world. So whatever we did was OK. And what it also did was it drew people to it. Not just women -- men, anyone who'd ever been told, "You can't do something because you're not good enough" --
the right gender or right race or right color, or whatever. Maiden became a passion. And it was hard to raise the money -- hundreds of companies wouldn't sponsor us. They told us that we couldn't do it, people thought we were going to die. You know, guys would literally come up to me and say, "You're going to die."
I'd think, "Well, OK, that's my business, it's not yours." In the end, King Hussein of Jordan sponsored Maiden, and that was an amazing thing -- way ahead of his time, all about equality.
And this, for me, really was the moment of my life where I looked back on every single thing that I'd done -- every project, every feeling, every passion, every battle, every fight -- and I decided that I wanted Maiden to continue that fight for the next generation.
Maiden is sailing around the world on a five-year world tour. We are engaging with thousands of girls all over the world. We are supporting community programs that get girls into education. Education doesn't just mean sitting in a classroom.
This, for me, is about teaching girls you don't have to look a certain way, you don't have to feel a certain way, you don't have to behave a certain way. You can be successful, you can follow your dreams and you can fight for them. Life doesn't go from A to B. It's messy. My life has been a mess from beginning to end, but somehow I've got to where we're going.
The future for us and Maiden looks amazing. And for me, it is all about closing the circle. It's about closing the circle with Maiden and using her to tell girls that if just one person believes in you, you can do anything.