Nicknamed Turbine for his fame in conducting sailboats, he collected five Olympic medals, four of them in the Star class.
He is the Brazilian with the highest number of Olympic medals, and holds the highest number of Olympic medals in sailing together with Ben Ainslie and Robert Scheidt with five, followed by Paul Elvstrøm with four. He also placed first place in many World, South American and Brazilian championships in several categories. His first-mate is usually Marcelo Ferreira.
Grael has also sailed in other international competitions including the 2005–06 Volvo Ocean Race as skipper of the Brasil 1 team, the first 100% Brazilian outfit to enter the competition, which finished third overall. He would win the next Ocean Race, but this time as the skipper of the Swedish team Ericsson 4 (he won the race with two legs to spare). In October 2008 the yacht Ericsson 4 officially travelled 596.6 nautical miles in 24 hours, establishing a 24-hour monohull record. Skipper Torben Grael and his crew made the record on the first leg of the 2008–2009 Volvo Ocean Race. They sailed Ericsson 4 hard as a strong cold front hit the fleet, bringing winds approaching 40 knots, and propelling the yacht at an average speed of 24.8 knots.