At PUMA Ocean Racing’s Global Press Launch in Newport, R.I., last month, PUMA CEO Antonio Bertone introduced the honorary crewmember who will be joining skipper Ken Read and company when _mar mostro _starts the Volvo Ocean Race in October—he’s a red sea monster named Marmo.
“Our little octopus catches a ride on the keel of mar mostro,” said Bertone, explaining the basis for a children’s book about ocean conservation. “He takes you through all the stopovers and all the problems that are facing today’s oceans.”
Read joked, “I have to admit, this is the first time Tony’s told me that this guy’s going to be attached to our keel.” Turning to boat designer Juan Kouyoumdjian, he added, “Do you have that worked into your calculations?”
There was laughter throughout the crowd of teammates, support crew, and over 30 journalists from around the world, but Read and his team are serious about introducing the sport—and a love of the ocean—to children around the world. PUMA Ocean Racing is using the VOR as a platform for an ocean preservation campaign. Marmo is the face of this campaign, which will educate and entertain the huge fan base of children that followed the team in the last VOR. “We have to reach the kids,” said Read. “We’re more than a sailboat racing team.”
Marmo is not the only new addition to the team. At the press event, Laird Hamilton—big wave surfer and father of modern stand-up paddleboarding—was also introduced as an honorary crewmember. “The collaboration opens up an incredible amount of opportunities,” said Hamilton, who worked with Kouyoumdjian to create limited edition stand-up paddleboards that mimic mar mostro with their shape and red tentacle graphics.
Kouyoumdjian was equally enthusiastic about the collaboration. “It was a natural way of pursuing and applying some of the calculations, features, and technologies we used on the Volvo 70,” he said. “It was an incredible opportunity to mix those things up.”
The SUPs will be available at the VOR stopovers for spectators to enjoy. “There are no boundaries to trying to bring access to the ocean for nonsailors,” says Read.
Hamilton will also provide the team with guidance in the areas of fitness and nutrition in exchange for their unique perspective on the ocean. “Where they’re going to go in the ocean and what they’re going to see will help me a lot,” said the surfer. “They’re going to be looking at waves that I want to try to ride.”
Bertone stressed that Puma was trying to “think outside the box” with its VOR campaign. They’re taking a creative approach to the race, extending media efforts beyond the race itself to provide fans with a deeper respect for the ocean.
For the official press release, visit our Finish Line forum.