Ride Along


Ride Along

Our Puma contest winner Richard Mitchele tells about his ride on Puma…

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I found out that I’d won the contest on SA. I was kind of thinking maybe I’d score a T-shirt or some other Puma swag. It was as if Jessica Alba called to say that the restraining order had been lifted that she and Uma Thurman had talked it over and wanted to give my idea a try. There was some debate as to whether my submission warranted the top prize but the powers that be determined that it did and I’m pretty happy about that. Anyway, the Puma people liked it. And Ed, the deposit has been sent to the Cayman account as discussed.

So Bridgid from Puma calls to get all my sizes. She emails me my flight info and tells me that a Volvo will meet me at the airport in Boston. Bridgid is a dynamo – hyper organized, super friendly and a total professional. I’ll use that word a lot because these people are all professionals. Not just because they get paid. They are true pros at what they do. As promised, a Puma rep was waiting with a sign with my name on it as I exited the gate. She made a quick call and a Volvo XC 90 with cool VOR badges on the doors materialized. In the back seat was a Puma duffel bag. I didn’t open it until I got to the hotel. i thought all the girlish giggling would make me look like a dork.

After I checked in, Dan called from Puma city. He extended another warm welcome on behalf of Puma and asked me to make my way over to base camp after I settled in. I could see the VO 70 masts off in the distance from my hotel – way cool! I delved into my duffel and was soon decked out head to toe in bright red Puma swag. I was hoping that there would be others at the compound similarly dressed or I was going to stand out a bit. Fortunately there were. Puma did over a hundred grand in swag in one day. Everyone was wearing it. On the way to the compound, a kid asked me for my autograph. That was a first. I hung out on the VIP deck and met the gang then headed back to the hotel around nine. There’s a rumor that I was back at the Puma nightclub later that evening but my lawyer has instructed me not to discuss it.

Sunday morning we got our wristbands (to get us past the security goons on the dock), signed our waivers and headed down to the boat. I stepped aboard Il Mostro and did my best to look like I belonged there. Despite all the Puma swag, I’m sure I looked like an absolute piker. After a search and rescue demonstration by the Coast guard, the boats headed out one after another with music blaring and crowds cheering.

The course was changed at the last minute to allow for the fact that the breeze was gusting over thirty. It was a kind of figure-eight drag race thingy. Because of the breeze and the tourists onboard, we went with reefed mains and number four headsails. And that was plenty. As we’d bear away, I’d watch the speedo instantly register twenty knots and keep climbing. The best speed I saw was twenty-three and a half. Ken gave us a quick overview of the boat and safety stuff and told us that everyone would get a chance to drive – between races. I did a few minutes on the helm and it was pretty wild. These boats are violent in the way they accelerate and turn. There’s no other word that adequately describes the way they move.

To be continued…