How Mark Towill raised $20M for a boat race - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

How Mark Towill raised $20M for a boat race

KANEOHE, OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Just months away from the start of a nine month, 40,000 nautical mile yacht race, Kahaluu native Mark Towill doesn't have much time to reflect.

He's direct, on-point and focused. He's the General Manager of Team Alvimedica. He's raised $20 million dollars to get to this point.

He's also 25 years old.

"I was born and raised in Kahaluu. I really connected to the water. I did all sorts of things from kayaking, paddling, sailing, surfing, you name it" Towill says as he looks to the water where we are speaking at the Kaneohe Boat Harbor.

It was the sailing that stuck. He raced at Punahou, at Brown University, domestically and internationally.

Along the way, Towill caught the eye of Volvo Ocean Race organizers. They were looking to inject new blood into the event, and offered him business development support.

Hearing him tell the story, it almost seems like it was a dare.

"From October of 2011 until January of this year, my full time focus has been trying to find a sponsor to enter this Volvo Ocean Race".

Towill and his business partner Charlie Enright had conversations, meetings and pitches. None worked.

"We must have had 200 people tell us no before we got to Alvemedica" he recalls.

Alvimedica is a Turkish medical device company. It's a young company that wanted to both get into the Volvo Ocean Race, and project a young image while doing so.

Towill fit the bill. A deal was struck in January of 2014.

What makes the scenario even more impressive is that Towill eschewed the preferred route of young sailors, which is to try and join an established team. As he describes it, his method was a lot like launching a start-up company.

"To have pulled that off in some ways may have been more challenging that doing the race itself" he says, feeling the magnitude—but not the weight—of raising so much money at such a young age.

Now, he and the rest of the team (eight men aboard the vessel with a stable of alternates) are counting down the minutes for the long, often grueling haul that is the race.

"You kind of pack your life into a little bag. You don't bring many changes of clothes. You're wet constantly, it's challenging for sure but that's part of the allure of the race itself".

The race begins in Alicante, Spain. The route then heads south around South Africa, where there is a pit-stop for all the team in Cape Town. Other ports along the route include the United Arab Emirates, China, New Zealand, Brazil, Newport Rhode Island, Portugal and France before the race ends in Sweden.

The Volvo Ocean Race happens once every three years. While he has yet to participate in his first one, Towill says he's already hoping to do it again.

For more information on Team Alvimedica and the Volvo Ocean Race:

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