PUMA, Juan K, and Laird Hamilton Get Ready to Paddleboard

A mere five days before he and the crew of Mar Mostro set sail in the 2011 TransAtlantic Race, Ken Read sat down between surfing giant Laird Hamilton and legendary designer Juan K. to talk about a very different hobby: paddleboarding.

Specifically, paddleboarding the PUMA way.

“PUMA has always gone against the grain,” Antonio Bentone, PUMA’s Chief Marketing Officer noted, “and we knew we wanted to get more people involved and out on the water with this next Volvo Ocean Race campaign.” To do this, PUMA paired Laird Hamilton with Juan K, the man behind Mar Mostro and the last two winners of the Volvo Ocean Race, to design the paddleboard to reflect the surfer’s specifications and Mar Mostro’s design. “It was a unique partnership,” Juan K. said. “We don’t get a chance to push the elements of sailboat building to other things.”

PUMA’s last stopover toy was the Moth, a hydrofoil dinghy emblazoned with PUMA’s characteristic red and black sails. But Bentone admitted that the Moths required a certain skill level to get attendees out on the water, and that was not the ultimate goal. “We kept seeing all these children and people who definitely weren’t sailors, but they were coming to see the boat and wanted to get out on the water. The paddleboards will make that possible.”

Hamilton was immediately interested in the project, and saw greater opportunities to further his involvement. “My show is usually a one-man show, so I was really excited,” he said. “I like to merge disciplines and people, and I give PUMA a lot of credit for opening up this opportunity.”

“Stand up paddleboarding is just the greatest way to get out and see the water,” he said, soon after admitting that he had once paddleboarded across the English Channel wearing nothing more than a trench coat and a Walkman. “It helps you respect and appreciate the water, and ultimately protect it.”

Ken Read noted that Hamilton’s partnership would extend to further areas of the PUMA Volvo Ocean Racing program. “Laird is very involved in nutrition, and within five minutes I learned more about what I should be doing to feed myself than I have in an entire lifetime. That’s going to translate when we’re out on the ocean, trying to feed ourselves with a single burner and some hot water.” Read said that Hamilton would be advising them with supplements and vitamins, giving the crew ample energy for the many distance races in their near future.

The Juan K. and Laird Hamilton designed paddleboards will be sold in limited edition quantities from PUMA retailers. For more information on PUMA’s paddleboard, click www.puma.com/sailing

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