A handful of local entities will benefit from a thunderous event that drew scores of powerboats from 40 states.
Over the weekend, the fourth annual Kuttawa Cannonball Run featured around 140 mostly high-performance speed boats that converged on Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. While the fun run drew boaters for a short event Friday, Kuttawa Harbor Marina on Saturday morning was filled with the deafening rumble of marine horsepower.
“It’s just a fun run, kind of like a poker run,” said Jeff Hoefling of Evansville, Indiana, who serves as one of the organizers. “It brings boaters together to raise a bunch of money for good causes.”
Last year, the Cannonball Run generated $10,000 for a children’s hospital, rescue mission, childhood disabilities organization and Lyon County High School’s robotics club.
Though this year’s totals are not in, Hoefling expects another big amount. This year’s proceeds will benefit Lyon County Sheriff’s Department, Lyon County Search and Rescue, Lyon County High School and 911 Gives Hope, an emergency responders fund to help disabled children.
“The boating community is very thick and very strong,” Hoefling said, adding that powerboat owners will travel the country to show off their watercraft, but the lakes of western Kentucky are one of the biggest draws in the Midwest.
That’s why Joey Brabec of Chicago made the five-hour trek with his 120 mph speed boat “Slow Ride.” For Brabec, it was his first trip down for the Cannonball Run.
The run was born over a dinner conversation between Hoefling and his buddy Stephen Miles, whose designs adorn some of the most expensive power boats in the country. With both men being familiar with the waters of the two man made lakes in western Kentucky and having a relationship with Kuttawa Harbor Marina owner Wayne Breedlove, the fit was natural four years ago to start a new poker run for boaters.
Hoefling said the run is not a race, with no speed classes or shotgun starts.
“It’s just a chance for everyone to come to the lakes, have a good time and enjoy the marinas at their leisure,” he said.
Kuttawa Cannonball Run took boaters to several marinas in Kentucky and Tennessee. And with power boats ranging from around $50,000 up to millions of dollars, the spending by owners brought in to the economy is substantial for Lyon County and the area.
Hoefling, who started visiting the lakes with family about 30 years ago when he was a teenager, said consideration was given to canceling this year’s event due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However, as restrictions loosened, organizers decided to keep the schedule and enjoy the hospitality of Lyon County.
“Everyone in the area is just good people,” he said. “We get a lot of support down there.”