Yachting: Round the World history-making Maiden returns to Auckland

In 1989, against all odds, the first all-women crew aboard Maiden completed the toughest ocean challenge - the Whitbread Round the World race.

On Saturday morning the iconic yacht returned to Auckland, on a much longer, but equally challenging journey - but the vision is still crystal clear.

"Anything is possible," crew member Sharon Ferris told Newshub.

"Find some goals that really turn you on with passion and emotion, that will give you the determination to drive through and succeed,"

But Maiden's journey three decades ago was anything but plain sailing. Skipper Tracey Edwards and her all-female crew defied the odds and completed the world's toughest ocean race, overcoming prejudice, and obstacles of sexism.

For New Zealand's only crew member rigger Amanda Neal Swan, it was an emotional reunion - she remembers the challenges only too well.

"They just didn't give you the confidence to do what you wanted to do. It wasn't so much they didn't tell you, you couldn't do it - they just made it a challenge."

A challenge the women embraced. While Sir Peter Blake's Steinlager took overall honours, Maiden won two of the six legs.

It was only fitting Blake's two Whitbread yachts of 1986 and 1989 flanked Maiden's journey into Auckland

"We had Lion New Zealand and Steinlager right there beside us - two very masculine projects when they raced around the world, full of 30 girls on each boat," said Ferris.

Renowned Kiwi skipper Sharon Ferris-Choat has joined the iconic yacht on the Maiden Factor tour, a three-year journey raising funds and promoting girls education worldwide, while Maiden has inspired the next generation of Kiwi women to chase Round the World glory.

"They created incredible pathways for female sailors growing up," said Ferris.

"It's created incredible role models for us to look up to."

The Maiden factor - ensuring a good education and a proving life is a right of passage for all the world's women.