'Being the only woman on the crew is not a problem. It's like being office co-workers. In the first few editions, when Volvo was still called Whitbread, it was more common to have co-ed teams. Then in the 90s, the rules demanded women-only boats. Today, we return to the tradition of co-ed teams,' she says.
In Brazil for just over ten days, she is learning Portuguese, doing a lot of weight lifting, and most importantly, getting to know the members of the crew who will join her on more than 57,000 kilometers, during an eight month period, covering nine countries. 'It's key to speak the main language on the boat. Sailing is a sport defined by details and when you don't speak the same language as your team members you may not understand something important,' explains CAHALAN.
Choosing CAHALAN was one of the most important decisions taken by skipper Torben GRAEL (BRA). She was recommended by one of the most respected meteorologists Roger BADHAM, or Clouds, as he is known amongst sailors. 'He knew Torben and my name came up in one of their conversations. I came to Brazil for an interview and shortly after that I was on the team,' she explains.
The Australian is one of the most highly respected navigators in the world. She held the same position on the Cheyenne, which broke the round the world speed record in 2004, and she has been nominated for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award for the last three years running. Even being in high demand she chose the Brasil 1. One of the reasons was the strong patriot spirit of the team. 'This is one of the most challenging projects I have ever encountered. It defies the narrow view of just wanting to arrive first. It involves a lot more; a feeling of national pride, not just a commercial undertaking. It is a Brazilian boat, not just a sponsored boat or a team project.'