PUMA Ocean Racing, which turned heads on and off the water in the 2008-09 race, has returned for the next edition, again under the leadership of Ken Read.
For the 2011-12 event, PUMA will partner with BERG Propulsion, one of the world’s leading designers and producers of Controllable Pitch Propellers for commercial shipping. The team will be known as PUMA Ocean Racing, powered by BERG Propulsion.
PUMA joins France’s Groupama, Italia 70 and Team Abu Dhabi as officially declared entries. There are over 20 additional syndicates actively working on campaigns.
PUMA finished a gallant second overall in the 2008-09 race. Read and his men just pipped Bouwe Bekking’s Telefonica Blue in a race-long battle played out behind eventual winner Ericsson 4.
Read was delighted to be returning. “This last race was an amazing journey for me personally and for our start-up company PUMA Ocean Racing,” he said. “To have the opportunity to continue where we left off is a dream come true.
"For PUMA to want to come back to this adventure is a testament to the event itself and to the entire PUMA Ocean Racing team, past and present. We look forward to the challenges that lie ahead both organisationally as well as competitively.”
Team selection is already underway and will likely include a number of sailors from PUMA’s 2008-09 team, plus a mix of new and veteran talent from the professional racing world. Training will begin onboard PUMA’s il mostro in Spring 2010 at the team’s home base in Newport, Rhode Island.
The entry into competitive sailing extends PUMA’s focus into premium lifestyle sports – a category PUMA has forged through its Formula One partnerships, motor sports collaborations such as Ducati and Ferrari, and the launch of a sport lifestyle golf collection in 2006.
The decision underlines the race’s status as a compelling marketing platform, according to Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad.
“PUMA Ocean Racing was a ground-breaking team in the last Volvo Ocean Race, not only bringing a very competitive team, but the creativity of a world class fashion brand. Their funky attitude and design spoke to a young audience who engaged with both PUMA and the race.
“It is great to have Ken Read and his team back, after their outstanding performance in the 2008-09 race and I am sure he is striving to achieve the ultimate goal.
“We appreciate greatly BERG Propulsion, who have decided to join the race again after tasting it in the previous event and now they are playing in the upper league of sponsors.”
Jochen Zeitz, PUMA AG Chairman and CEO, said: “We are proud of PUMA Ocean Racing’s success in the last Volvo Ocean Race and look forward to the adventures this next race will bring.
“The Volvo Ocean Race is one of the world's iconic sporting events. It proved to be an extremely successful marketing tool for us and an important launch pad for the sailing product category. We look forward to building the sailing category even more throughout the next race, as well as expanding into other forms of outdoor lifestyle ventures.”
PUMA continues to expand its line of sailing performance gear and will be the official supplier of footwear, clothing, and accessories to the Volvo Ocean Race.
The route for 2011-12 includes: start port of Alicante (Spain), Cape Town (South Africa), Abu Dhabi (UAE), Sanya (China), Auckland (New Zealand), Itajaí (Brazil), Miami (US), Lisbon (Portugal), Lorient (France) and the finish port of Galway (Ireland).
The preliminary course will be published later this month.