Martine Grael, Olympic champion and star of the The Ocean Race, led the Brazilian charge at the PanAm Games in Peru and made history at the same time – by flying the flag, with her sailing crew Kahena Kunze.
The pair – who scooped gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics – are now focused on defending their place as the best in the world in the 49erFX class at the 2020 Tokyo Games, and the action that will take place in Lima over the coming weeks forms a central part of their preparation.
Martine became the first Brazilian female competitor in history to be the flag bearer at the PanAm Games, and followed in the footsteps of her father, Race winning skipper Torben, who was flag bearer in the 1995 Games in Mar de Plata, Argentina.
Torben achieved glory in The Ocean Race as skipper of Ericsson 4 in the 2008-09 edition, and saw his daughter take part in the Race for the first time as part of team AkzoNobel in 2017-18.
Martine has admitted that for now she is fully focused on the Tokyo Olympic Games, but another lap of the planet – in what she describes as ‘the most extreme Race yet’ in 2021 – wouldn’t be out of the question.
“For me, it’s all about going after challenges – and the next challenge after the Olympics? Who knows,” she said in April. “I think deep inside everyone wants to win the Race, and that’s what brings people back. If you have the possibility of winning it, you’ll be back. It’s a big project but it’s something that, in the end, you’re proud of.”
Grael and Kunze have long been qualified to take part in Tokyo, and have spent the last month training in the Japanese waters that they will race in this time next year, before jetting to Peru.