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Adrienne Cahalan reaches Hobart milestone

AAP logoAAP 25/12/2016 Adrian Warren

Adrienne Cahalan has witnessed women's participation in the Sydney to Hobart go from a trickle to a flood as she prepares to become the first woman to contest the race 25 times.

Cahalan was far from the first female to do the race when she tackled it for the first time 32 years ago.

"There were many women there before me and when first I did the race in 1984,' Cahalan told AAP.

'There was a girl on Windward Paasage and I looked at her and felt 'wow'.

"At the the time there was Naomi Jones (the first woman to sail solo around the world) sailing, who we knew.

"There have been so many women in ocean racing already through the Hobart that were a real inspiration and role models.

"I remember I had little pictures of them on the wall.

'In 1984 there was a handful of women and now I'm sailing with four girls on my boat, there's four on many of the other boats and it's a great thing because it's really good there's diversity."

Navigator Cahalan has been part of several line honours winning crews, featuring in multiple triumphs on Wild Oats XI.

While Cahalan is the first female to 25, she could be joined by several more in the next few years,

"There's a lot of women now coming through in the teens and 20s, so you'll see the floodgates are open," Cahalan said.

However, her imminent milestone is just halfway to the male race record of Tony Cable, who this year will contest it for the 51st time.

Until recently it was probably fair to say the race was regarded as having a blokey culture.

"I think the sport has traditionally been male crews and it probably mirrors life in terms of the corporate world in terms of women's role in the home," Cahalan said when asked why the women's mark was so far behind the mens.

"There's no doubt that as a woman when you have children that's a part of your life that often you just take some time out from whether it's career or sport to focus on that."

Women have a calming influence on their male crewmates according to Komatsu Azzurro skipper and owner Shane Kearns.

"The one thing that keeps us civilised is we've got one woman on board, Felicity Nelson," Kearns said

"That keeps conversations above board and some level of manners on board, as opposed to an all-guy crew, when things can descend into a lot of insults and fights and 'we'll sort this out in the bar when we get there'.

"So I'd say Felicity is invaluable in our team."

Among the women competing this year is 2012 470 Olympic gold and 2016 sliver medallist Jo Aleh, who is using the race on new supermaxi CQS to prepare for a possible place in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race.

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