“Adrienne Cahalan has inspired a generation of sailors – male and female – as living proof that true grit, determination and talent really can take you to the top of the world. From skiffs and 18-footers to monohulls, round the world races and record attempts, Adrienne has done it all and continues to do more. With an extraordinary string of overall, handicap and race records in the famous Sydney to Hobart yacht race to her name, Adrienne remains a force in our sport, on and off the water.”
Cahalan began sailing as a teenager on a family holiday and quickly progressed through 12-foot skiffs to 18-footers on Sydney Harbour.
She sailed her first Sydney Hobart yacht race in 1984 and started sailing as a professional in 1988 on 18-foot skiffs. Her racing and campaigning were done while balancing university studies and being admitted to practice law in 1991.
Adrienne raced her first Whitbread as a navigator in the 1993/1994 race and was watch leader on Nicorette when it broke the Transatlantic record in 1997.
She has been nominated for Female World Sailor of the Year four times in 1998, 2002, 2003 and 2004.
In 2003 Cahalan completed post-graduate studies in Applied Meteorology at the University of Reading and this built the foundation for her career as a weather, climate and navigation consultant for marine, litigation and corporate advisory matters.
One of Adrienne’s greatest achievements came in 2004. On the maxi-catamaran Cheyenne, she broke the non-stop Round the World Record as navigator – the only female in the 12-strong crew. The finishing time was 58 days, 9 hours, 32 minutes and 45 seconds which saw nearly six days slashed off the old record.
Not only was she the fastest Australian to circumnavigate the globe, but Adrienne was also the only woman to ever be part of a crew to break the non-stop Round the World Record.
Adrienne’s record-breaking participation in the Sydney to Hobart adds to her legacy. Cahalan has navigated Wild Oats XI to five-line honours victories, including two trebles – line honours, overall and race record. She has six Hobart line honours and two overall Hobart wins to her name.
In 2006, Adrienne published her autobiography Around the Buoys, chronicling her career as a successful yachtswoman and top-class navigator. In the time since, she has continued to add to her incredible resume not only through sailing but as an accomplished marine lawyer, meteorologist and mother. Adrienne has pioneered female participation in sailing since her first Sydney to Hobart in 1984 and stands as a role model not only to young Australian women and men but sailors around the globe.