Back in 2009, Torben Grael from Brazil won the Volvo Ocean Race and his then 17-year old daughter Martine the ISAF Youth 420 World title. Meanwhile father, daughter and son Marco are on the same Olympic World Cup circuit. Yesterday, Martine won her first (bronze) medal in the 470 and Marco finished eleventh in the 49er, crewing for Andre Fonseca.
After a victory in the Volvo Ocean Race and five Olympic medals, of which three golden ones, Torben Grael is fore sure an icon of the sailing sports. To the question what is most appealing to them, Olympic of offshore success, Marco answers: “Both are very different. To become an ocean sailor, you need some skills from Olympic racing and big boats. If you have them both, you can use them either way.” What about your personal ambition? “You should do it step by step. I am on the Olympic circuit now and let’s see what opportunities come up to me.”
His sister says: “Volvo Ocean Race for girls is a big step, but for sure not impossible. Actually, I would be happy in case there will be a girls’ team.” Martine herself doesn’t consider it know, as she focusses on Olympic sailing.
As a father with all his experience and achievements, Torben shares the opinion of his children: “The Olympics is more something for when you are younger. You need more experience and maturity in the Volvo Ocean Race, so you can do it later. I think that for every athlete the first step is naturally the Olympics. If you want to perform at the highest level, you decide to go to the Olympics and afterwards you can start looking for other challenges. Going around the world is for sure a big challenge.” Would you do it a third time? “Oh yes, I would. If I have the opportunity to do it like we did it the last time with Ericsson, I think it is fun. I don’t want to do it half. It is hard to do it that way if you already won it.”
With a son and daughter sailing on the highest level, some coaching work would be inevitable from a father with such a record, isn’t it? Torben Grael: “I have a lot of experience in Olympic sailing. Any time that I can help and they want me to, I give them advice.” His son agrees, but according to him his father does more: “He says that in terms of sailing, but I think the major part of the logistics is done due to him and he helps a little in sailing.” Torben comments: “I have been through this so many times, so I know what works and what doesn’t. I try to help them, but of course they are learning by themselves. They are doing so well and I hope they get what they want.”
Asking about how is to be on the circuit as a family, Martine answers: “It is very nice to stay close with your relatives when you get back from sailing. We travel a lot. My mum is missing us.”
Photo: Francois Wieringa