VOLVO OCEAN RACE: Meet the man behind Team Alvimedica

Published on April 15th, 2014

by Sam Greenfield, Volvo Ocean Race
I want to shatter everything you thought you knew about the types of executives who sponsor big-money sailing programs. Forget Caddyshack; Judge Smails is dead.

Cem Boskurt is the CEO of Turkey’s largest medical device company and Volvo Ocean Race’s newest -and most unlikely – character. Call him ‘Gem’. That how it’s pronounced.

We first met two months ago, in Istanbul, at Team Alvimedica’s press announcement. Americans Charlie Enright and Mark Towill had only sat with him once before, at an afternoon meet and greet in Amsterdam last November that had turned into dinner and a night out.

Knut Frostad, Volvo Ocean Race’s CEO, had been long searching for a sponsor that fit Mark and Charlie’s program. When Knut told them get on the plane to Holland there was zero hesitation. Cem flew in from Istanbul.

“After 10, 20 minutes, I was sure that these guys could do it, and that night we agreed on it,” says Cem, speaking into a GoPro, filming himself on a shipping Pier in Southampton.

It was that simple. Cem doesn’t hesitate for a moment when I ask him to turn the camera on himself and share what’s on his mind for a movie.

Rally car navigators and drivers don’t hesitate, nor do heart surgeons or good CEOs – all hats that he has worn. But if you want to call a spade a spade, Cem is a race fan at heart that decided Alvimedica would sponsor a program at the end of the 2011-2012 race.

His medical device company is only seven years old, and in that time it’s grown into one of Europe’s largest. He’s proud about this fact, and finding a young, unproven team was a better fit than going with race veterans. And for a company trying to break into North American markets the cast of under-30 All-American Offshore veterans was a no brainer.

Cem doesn’t refer to Mark or Charlie as his ‘team’. They’re his family. And it sounds like bull until I watch them one-on-one.

I think back to Alvimedica’s media day at Green Marine this week. Knut is talking to a room of reporters and Charlie and Cem are just outside at a stand-up table. Charlie can’t stop eating the carrot cake and Mark is on the boat prepping the crew for an onslaught of media guests.

Cem asks Charlie, “Did you see the re-mastered Whitbread film that Volvo published on YouTube?” Charlie nods his head and grunts, his mouth full of cake.

“The one where they were loading on beers and guitars before the race! And the couches were made of leather!” Cem is gesturing and Charlie is laughing as he describes the old scene.

“We should do that in Alicante, right before the race, just to see what they say!” It’s hard to tell who’s having more fun, the sailors or their boss.

And that’s Cem.


Source: Event website

comment banner

Tags: ,

Back to Top ↑

Get Your Sailing News Fix!

Your download by email.

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

We’ll keep your information safe.