Ami Hopkins

Ami is an engineer and crew member of the Maiden, a famous yacht which has been on a world tour, visiting schools, supporting charities and inspiring thousands of young women and girls to embrace STEM subjects.

The Maiden inspired a generation of women. Skippered by Tracy Edwards MBE, she led the first all-female crew to compete in the notoriously difficult Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989/90, coming second overall.

Maiden was sold at the end of the race and in 2014 Tracy learned that the iconic yacht had been abandoned and left rotting in the Seychelles; she knew she had to save this unique piece of maritime history and raised funds and eventually brought her back to the UK in 2017. She underwent an extensive restoration, and The Maiden Factor was born, a charitable foundation to improve the rights of girls to an education, with opportunities for girls in STEM subjects one particular area of focus.

Ami joined the Maiden crew in September 2021, putting her engineering skills to good use right away fixing and maintaining the engine, generator, and electrical systems, while supporting the crew as their sailing journey continued. With more than a decade of sailing experience behind her, she’s since sailed tens of thousands of nautical miles and has played an integral part of the Maiden outreach days at destinations around the world, enthusing and encouraging girls to get excited about STEM subjects.

Since then, the yacht has taken part in the Ocean Globe Race 2023, with its international crew making history, and headlines, in early 2024 as the first all-female team to win an around the world yacht race after 153 days, 2 hours, 16 minutes and 53 seconds of racing. The crew, including Ami, were even invited to a reception with royalty at Clarence House in April 2024 where The Queen congratulated them on their unprecedented achievements.

“I am so proud of her, but it does not surprise me at all.”

– Adam Papworth
Lecturer and programme leader who taught Ami while studying at LJMU

The university is proud to be connected to Ami as the university where she obtained her BSc (Hons) in Product Innovation and Development, a design and engineering degree focused on producing graduates capable of solving real problems and innovating new product ideas.

Adam Papworth, Principal Lecturer and Programme Leader of the programme Ami studied, reflects on his time as her supervisor: “In her final year project which I supervised, Ami decided to design a highly portable, easy to operate and low-cost roof rack to accommodate a common class of yacht, re-using materials and components from existing yachts that had reached the end of their useful life. Back then she was an avid sailor and environmentalist who wanted to solve some of these issues for people new to the sport.

“After graduating she gained employment at Hartley Boats Ltd as a Graduate Trainee – we are so proud of supporting women in STEM at the university and our programmes have always recruited more females into the profession compared to more traditional engineering degree programmes due to their nature, content and delivery.

“I am so proud of her, but it does not surprise me at all. She was a determined customer!”

Talking at the time of joining the Maiden crew, Ami shared what drives her in all that she does: “If you’ve ever lost someone, you realise quickly that you only get a limited amount of time on this earth; do whatever makes you happy. You only get one shot at life and existing through it is not living.”

And added why she loves sailing: “Seeing the sights that can only be seen from a sailing vessel; whales bigger than the boat, the sunrise with a 360-degree horizon and clouds in their full expanded glory!”

The university hopes for Ami to return to campus in the future and to talk to the next generation of maritime and engineering students, no doubt inspiring them to follow in her footsteps.