An iconic yacht which was welcomed home by royalty after racing across the globe has been announced as the winner.

The Maiden crew have been written into the history books as the first ever all-women crew to win an around the world yacht race, after being officially declared winners of the McIntyre Ocean Globe Race.

The win has extra poignancy, as it was the final global race for the yacht, which made history in 1989 when it had the first all-female crew for the Whitbread Round the World Race.

This race commemorated the 50th anniversary of the first Whitbread race.

The international all-female crew crossed the Royal Yacht Squadron, Cowes, finish line at 10.52am last Tuesday having sailed 6,599 nautical miles from Punta del Este on leg 4 of the race.

Their closest rival for IRC overall title, Triana FR (66), needed to finish by this morning, but is now facing headwinds 150 nautical miles from Cowes with an ETA of 5pm today (April 23).

Maiden UK (03) won the race, taking first in IRC handicap rankings against a 14 strong fleet of experienced and committed sailors.

Skipper Heather Thomas, the youngest skipper in the fleet, spoke of her pride in taking first place.

“It’s very exciting to be the first all-female crew to win an around the world race. It’s a historic moment. The girls have worked really hard for it and we’re very proud of our achievement. We have the best crew and the best boat so what can I say!

"To those we raced against it’s been a pleasure to get to know them and we’re going to miss them. It’s been an incredible first OGR and I hope the ones that follow are as good. Maiden won’t do the next one, but I will.”

Her crew hailed from the UK, Antigua, USA, South Africa, France and Afghanistan. 

Designed by Bruce Farr, the 58-foot aluminum hulled yacht came fourth in the 1981-82 Whitbread, known then as Disque D’Or 3.

She was then renamed Stabilo Boss for the 1986-87 BOC single-handed challenge coming seventh.

In 1987 she was bought by Tracy Edwards, who made headlines in the 1989 Whitbread skippering the iconic yacht around the world with an all-female crew.

Christened Maiden by the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, in 1988, the duchess was in Ocean Village on Saturday to welcome Maiden back to Southampton - where the Ocean Globe Race began last year before taking in South Africa, New Zealand and South America.