ALICANTE, ESP – Olympic Gold medalist Martine Grael has become the highest-profile woman to sign up for the Volvo Ocean Race. The Brazilian has joined the crew of Team AkzoNobel for the VOR, which starts in October. She is the 26-year-old daughter of the legendary Torben Grael, who is one of the most successful Olympic sailors of all time, with five medals.
Grael joins an AkzoNobel squad that features three members of her father’s winning Ericsson 4 team in 2008-09: British navigator Jules Salter and watch leaders Brad Jackson of New Zealand and Joca Signorini of Brazil.
With her father watching from a coaching boat, Grael teamed with Kahena Kunze for a dramatic win in the 49er FX class on home waters in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics last summer.
Now she’s the first Brazilian woman to take part in the Volvo Ocean Race. The VOR is making a big push to include women, and mixed teams get a numerical advantage in crew size.
“Stepping up from the 49er FX to the Volvo Ocean Race with team AkzoNobel is a very exciting opportunity to expand my sailing skills and my fitness level,” Grael said. “My goal is to as quickly as possible get a good feel for the boat and understand the finesse required to produce the best performance.
“This is a big journey for me but I’m hoping to enjoy the experience and learn a lot from it. Most of all I want to prove that I belong on this team and I can’t wait to start racing against other boats.”
Team AkzoNobel is led by Simeon Tinepont. The Dutchman is delighted to add another huge sailing talent to his strong multinational crew. “Martine is one of the world’s most talented young sailors and has proven her ability to perform at the highest level with her Olympic gold medal winning performance,” Tienpont said. “She is one of the few individuals who can successfully make the leap from small boat sailing into the professional arena of big boat racing in events like the Volvo Ocean Race. It’s no surprise that she is such a complete talent given the amazing sailing family she grew up in, where she learned from a young age what it takes to compete at the top of this sport. Aside from her sailing ability, Martine also has a great personality – she’s fiercely competitive and great fun to have on board.”
Grael will take part in Leg Zero, a mandatory series of four preliminary races for the seven Volvo Ocean Race teams prior to the race start on Oct. 22.
Leg Zero begins Wednesday with a sprint around England’s Isle of Wight, followed by the Rolex Fastnet Race on Aug. 6-9 and then two more stages, from Plymouth to Saint-Malo and Saint-Malo to Lisbon.
Brazilian gold medalist Martine Grael has joined Team AkzoNobel for the Volvo Ocean Race.