It was an idea that began last year, during a dramatic afternoon on the edge of Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic sailing course.

The medals were rolling in, but the Olympic regatta had saved the best until last.

Local girls Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze took gold for the host nation, sailing straight into Brazilian sporting folklore.

I’d been following the young Grael’s career for some time, since her early days under the shadow of her legendary father and two-time Olympic champion Torben.

I could see she had something special. Martine was going places, and had her sights fixed on success in Rio. But what would she do next?

Winning Olympic gold can be a whirlwind of parties, television interviews, photo shoots and more parties. But it goes by in a flash.

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A couple of days later, during a quiet moment with the British gold medalists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, the thought of what comes next for sailing’s female stars nagged at me again.

I’d asked the pair about their future plans. They had just reached the pinnacle of their sport and they weren’t sure what lay ahead.

In contrast, many of the male winners were turning their attention to the upcoming America’s Cup.

Giles Scott was heading back to England to re-join Ben Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR team.

Pete Burling and Blair Tuke were back to Emirates Team New Zealand but what about the women?

On the start line for the Vendee Globe, an epic round-the-world race, it struck me once again — no women.

One of the biggest fleets this magnificent, solo endeavor has ever seen and not one woman competing for the first time since 1992.

The most successful woman in the history og the Vendee is the inspirational Ellen MacArthur. At 24, she took on the mighty, non-stop race and finished second.

“For me it is out there for the taking if you want to sail around the world, then sail around the world,” Briton MacArthur told CNN. “If you don’t, don’t.

“Just make a decision and make it happen,” she added. “I don’t see it being any different for a man, woman, girl, boy or someone in their 60s.

“It is out there for the taking. It is incredibly difficult to find a sponsor and get to the start line, but it is there for the taking.”

Whether it’s offshore sailing or the Olympic Games, the sport has produced some incredible female talent.

As every Olympic cycle goes by, the standard of the female fleets improves.

Yet after the hunt for medals is over, there is nowhere left for women to compete. There are no women in the America’s Cup, and only a sprinkling of women on the big boat circuit. Ultimately, there is no career path.

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It’s hard to stand on that Olympic podium, having fulfilled the ultimate sporting goal, in the knowledge there’s nowhere left to go. A sentiment echoed by New Zealand Olympic champion Jo Aleh, fresh from Olympic medal No. 2 in Rio.

“I guess coming from an Olympic background I realize how lucky I am in the Olympic arena that it’s actually very even,” she said.

“Women and men have the same opportunities. Women and men are on the same level playing field. Women and men are trying to perform to that top level.

But as soon as you try to step outside that Olympic arena, it’s quite difficult. There is no pathway. Or I haven’t found a way as yet, as a woman in sailing, to make that next step forward, and that is pretty hard.”

To discuss this topic properly, I wanted to be thorough. So I sought a male perspective.

I asked Kenny Read, twice Volvo Ocean Race skipper and CEO of North Sails, if sailing is a “boys’ club.”

“I don’t think it’s as much as boys’ club as a strength club,” he responded.

Jimmy Spithill, skipper of America’s Cup defenders Oracle said it was like asking why there are no women on an NFL roster.

Both are viable answers. Sailing, particularly big boat sailing, requires big strong people. Big, strong female sailors are rare and, to our detriment, we don’t do a good job of encouraging bigger women into the sport.

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container Id of the video element*/function findNextVideo(currentVideoId) {var i,vidObj;if (currentVideoId && jQuery.isArray(currentVideoCollection) && currentVideoCollection.length > 0) {for (i = 0; i 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.showEndSlateForContainer();}}}callbackObj = {onPlayerReady: function (containerId) {CNN.VideoPlayer.reportLoadTime(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.handleInitialExpandableVideoState(containerId);CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, CNN.pageVis.isDocumentVisible());if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {var containerClassId = ‘#’ + containerId;if (jQuery(containerClassId).parents(‘.js-pg-rail-tall__head’).length) {videoPinner = new CNN.VideoPinner(containerClassId);videoPinner.init();} else {CNN.VideoPlayer.hideThumbnail(containerId);}}},/** Listen to the metadata event which fires right after the ad ends and the actual video playback begins*/onContentEntryLoad: function(containerId, playerId, contentid, isQueue) {CNN.VideoPlayer.showSpinner(containerId);},onContentMetadata: function (containerId, playerId, metadata, contentId, duration, width, height) {var endSlateLen = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find(‘.js-video__end-slate’).eq(0).length;CNN.VideoSourceUtils.updateSource(containerId, metadata);if (endSlateLen > 0) {videoEndSlateImpl.fetchAndShowRecommendedVideos(metadata);}},onAdPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, token, mode, id, duration, blockId, adType) {clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);if (blockId === 0) {(new Image()).src = “http://traffic.outbrain.com/network/trackpxl?advid=814&action=view”;}CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onContentPlay: function (containerId, cvpId, event) {var playerInstance,prevVideoId;/** When the video content starts playing, inject analytics data* for Aspen (if enabled) and the companion ad layout* (if it was set when the ad played) should switch back to* epic ad layout. onContentPlay calls updateCompanionLayout* with the ‘restoreEpicAds’ layout to make this switch*/if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘restoreEpicAds’);}clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);if (CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibraryName(containerId) === ‘fave’) {playerInstance = FAVE.player.getInstance(containerId) || null;} else {playerInstance = containerId && window.cnnVideoManager.getPlayerByContainer(containerId).videoInstance.cvp || null;}prevVideoId = (window.jsmd && window.jsmd.v && (window.jsmd.v.eVar18 || window.jsmd.v.eVar4)) || ”;if (playerInstance && typeof playerInstance.reportAnalytics === ‘function’) {if (prevVideoId.length === 0 && document.referrer && document.referrer.search(//videos//) >= 0) {prevVideoId = document.referrer.replace(/^(?:http|https)://[^/]/videos/(.+.w+)(?:/video/playlists/.*)?$/, ‘/video/$1’);if (prevVideoId === document.referrer) {prevVideoId = ”;}}playerInstance.reportAnalytics(‘videoPageData’, {videoCollection: currentVideoCollectionId,videoBranding: CNN.omniture.branding_content_page,templateType: CNN.omniture.template_type,nextVideo: nextVideoId,previousVideo: prevVideoId,referrerType: ”,referrerUrl: document.referrer});}if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);videoPinner.animateDown();}}},onContentReplayRequest: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(true);var $endSlate = jQuery(document.getElementById(containerId)).parent().find(‘.js-video__end-slate’).eq(0);if ($endSlate.length > 0) {$endSlate.removeClass(‘video__end-slate–active’).addClass(‘video__end-slate–inactive’);}}}},onContentBegin: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {CNN.VideoPlayer.mutePlayer(containerId);if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘removeEpicAds’);}CNN.VideoPlayer.hideSpinner(containerId);clearTimeout(moveToNextTimeout);CNN.VideoSourceUtils.clearSource(containerId);jQuery(document).triggerVideoContentStarted();},onContentComplete: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (CNN.companion && typeof CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout === ‘function’) {CNN.companion.updateCompanionLayout(‘restoreFreewheel’);}navigateToNextVideo(contentId, containerId);},onContentEnd: function (containerId, cvpId, contentId) {if (Modernizr && !Modernizr.phone && !Modernizr.mobile && !Modernizr.tablet) {if (typeof videoPinner !== ‘undefined’ && videoPinner !== null) {videoPinner.setIsPlaying(false);}}},onCVPVisibilityChange: function (containerId, cvpId, visible) {CNN.VideoPlayer.handleAdOnCVPVisibilityChange(containerId, visible);}};if (typeof configObj.context !== ‘string’ || configObj.context.length 0) {configObj.adsection = window.ssid;}CNN.autoPlayVideoExist = (CNN.autoPlayVideoExist === true) ? true : false;CNN.VideoPlayer.getLibrary(configObj, callbackObj, isLivePlayer);});/* videodemanddust is a default feature of the injector */CNN.INJECTOR.scriptComplete(‘videodemanddust’);

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