Edwards rescues historic boat
6:36pm Thursday 3rd July 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Round the world yachtswoman Tracy Edwards has taken a major step towards saving her historic boat from ruin.
A crowd-funding campaign launched by the sailor to rescue Maiden last month hit its target of £44,000 with minutes to spare before the project failed.
The 58ft (17.7m) vessel made history 25 years ago when it was skippered by Edwards with the first all-female round the world crew in the Whitbread race.
The Maiden Rescue Project was started with the ultimate ambition of bringing her back to the UK after she was found abandoned and rotting in the Indian Ocean.
After securing the boat, Edwards, 51, set a target of £44,000 to build a cradle and ship her to Cape Town to undergo a refit.
Her campaign won support from celebrities including Sir Richard Branson and Duran Duran star Simon Le Bon.
If pledges did not reach the required total by just after 5pm today, then the bid would have failed and all cash donated up to then returned.
But shortly before the deadline, Edwards tweeted: "You have all done it! We have reached our target."
She thanked an anonymous pledger who helped hit the target, adding: "Thank you to everyone who pledged and got #Maiden on a ship!"
The campaign's web page describes Maiden as "the 13th crew member" during the historic sail.
"She is such a special boat with so much character, she kept her crew safe and brought them home alive," it said.
"Abandoned in pirate infested waters in the Indian Ocean, this legend of British Maritime history is a shadow of her former self, slowly being left to rot away.
"Maiden now needs her own team of heroes who will join Tracy and her crew as they launch the rescue mission which will bring Maiden home to Britain where she belongs."