The careers and contributions of two Volvo Ocean Race legends have been celebrated at the ISAF Annual Conference in Sanya, China today. Sailing’s governing body has announced that it is inducting the late Sir Peter Blake (NZL) and Torben Grael (BRA) into the World Sailing Hall of Fame – the highest honour in the sport.
Introduced in 2007 to mark the centenary of the organisation, the elite list recognises those individuals who have not only made a significant impact on the water, but also shown incredible dedication and passion to the sport while onshore.
Characters that have, in their own way, helped to shape the sport and events enjoyed by millions around the world today.
And no-one fits that description more than Sir Peter Blake. The tough Kiwi is synonymous with the Volvo Ocean Race, having participated not only in the first ever iteration of this round the world marathon, but in a further four editions as skipper, spanning two decades.
Having cut his teeth in offshore sailing as Watch Captain on board Burton Cutter in 1973-74, he stepped up to co-skipper Heaths Condor in 1977-78, and went on to skipper both Ceramco New Zealand and Lion New Zealand in 1981-82 and 1985-86, respectively.
But perhaps his greatest moment in sailing came in the 1989-90 race, when, as skipper of Steinlager 2, he led his crew to a clean sweep of line, handicap and overall honours in each of the six legs.
Joining Sir Peter in the Hall of Fame is Brazil’s Torben Grael, a three-time Volvo Ocean Race veteran who won the overall trophy in 2008-09, as skipper of Ericsson 4.
One of his country’s greatest sporting exports, Grael also secured five Olympic medals, across two classes, the Louis Vuitton Cup, and numerous World Championships during an illustrious career – leading him to be crowned ISAF World Sailor of the Year in 2009.
Volvo Ocean Race CEO, Knut Frostad, said: “As a race, we are delighted that the achievements and dedication of two of our greatest ambassadors have been recognised in this way.
“It underlines the extremely rich heritage that this Race can be proud of. Sir Peter and Torben join a very special and unique list of talents.”
He continued. “Sir Peter Blake’s spirit is very much alive in this event, and his dedication to offshore sailing, discovering new corners of the plant and an unwavering passion for the environment remain key values to this day.”
Frostad added: “Having twice myself sailed with Torben in this Race, on board Innovation Kvaerner as his skipper in 1997-98, and on Brasil 1 in 2005-06, I have seen first-hand what an extremely talented sailor he is.”
“It’s fantastic to see his numerous achievements recognised. He’s a great guy, and it was our pleasure to host him during the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race stopover in Itajaí, Brazil.”
This is just the second instance since its inception that the World Sailing Hall of Fame has inducted new individuals. The next occasion will be in 2019.
*Image credits: Volvo Ocean Race/Roger Lean/Oskar Kihlbourg/David Kneale