2008: Breaking a world record for a cause
NAPLES — The record will have to wait — again.
About four hours after hopping on his Sea-Doo in a second attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest distance traveled on a personal watercraft in a 24-hour period, something went wrong with Michael Pagliccia’s craft near Marathon Key.
“It was basically a combination of both conditions and the mechanical malfunction,” said Eric Brophy, a member of Pagliccia’s team.
Brophy wouldn’t go into details about the malfunction, but said it occurred around 11 a.m., and about 250 miles into Pagliccia’s trip. He was shooting for 800 miles. The current world record is 714 miles.
The team pulled the plug on the trip around 1 p.m., Brophy said. The media was notified just before 8 p.m.
“We tried to work our way through it, but we were unable to,” Brophy said.
Once Pagliccia, 45, and his team have time to gather themselves, they intend to reschedule the trip.
“He was doing good,” Brophy said. “It was a bummer.”
The trip wasn’t just to fulfill Pagliccia’s goal of getting in the record books; it was also a way to raise money for the American Cancer Society, an organization close to the hearts of Pagliccia and his wife Stephanie, following the death of Stephanie’s mother in March.
“It’s more personal this year,” Stephanie Pagliccia said. “She was here last year ... and always thought he was a bit of a wild child. Would she be surprised (he was doing this)? No, but she’d be honored.”
Freda Slattery, Stephanie Pagliccia’s mother, died of colon cancer in March. Mike Pagliccia said he was moved to do something to help raise money for the American Cancer Society because of Slattery’s fight. The decision is also meant to honor everyone living with cancer, he said.
“I thought it was fitting to do this for her,” he said.
The current world record is held by an Australian. Pagliccia said he received a call from the current record holder wishing him luck shortly before he jumped onboard his Sea-Doo.
Pagliccia, began his trek near the Naples Pier around 7 a.m. The plan was to head south to Marathon Key. Once he reached Marathon, his plan was to loop back around and head toward Venice.
He intended to return to Naples in the evening and do night laps in a 2-and-a-half-mile area just off the pier. All hours needed to be logged by about 7 a.m. this morning to be considered eligible for the record.
This isn’t Pagliccia’s first failed attempt in trying to break the record. He rode 624 miles in 24 hours in November 2008, and was initially believed to have broken the world record.
That wasn’t the case, though. A mistake at the Guinness Book of World Records meant his 624-mile trip fell just short of the 640-mile world record.
Pagliccia said he was told the world record was 604 miles. He said Tuesday prior to the malfunction that he had a good feeling about his trip, but said everything depended on the weather. A previous attempt to break the record was cancelled last month because of bad weather.
Pagliccia has a history of doing wild stunts in the name of charity.
In 2007, he attempted to stay in a submerged tank on Fifth Avenue South for 48 hours. His attempt ended early, after he experienced chest pains and needed to be pulled from the tank.
In 2006, he spent 14 days floating on a 6-foot Ovatek-4 raft in Naples Bay.
Both events — as well as last year’s record-breaking attempt — benefited the YMCA of the Palms’ children’s enrichment programs in Southwest Florida.
As for his next extreme fund raiser, Pagliccia said he’s been too consumed with this project to think about the next one. But Stephanie Pagliccia knows one thing is for sure: There will be a next one.
“You can’t stop him,” she said. “If you stop him, it’s like telling a teenager to come home at 10 p.m. It will just give him more fuel to do it.”
Connect with Naples reporter Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster at http://www.naplesnews.com/staff/jenna_buzzacco