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Commentary: Kuttawa Is The Weekend Hit Of 2020

Taking a moment away from Lake of the Ozarks Shootout-week coverage yesterday, I shot a text message to Stephen Miles and Jeff Hoefling, who along with Terry Martin and Mike Lewis organized the fourth annual Kuttawa Cannonball Run in June. The Kentucky-based event attracted a record-setting 140 boats this year—up 40 entries from its 2019 total—and for some reason, as happens often with me, a random thought occurred.

In the most challenging year in high-performance powerboating event history, the Kuttawa Cannonball Run saw its greatest success.

“Kuttawa could end up being the largest weekend event of 2020,” I wrote. “Is that insane or what?”

Hoefling responded, “ I think we’ve got a pretty good chance at it. Not bad for a couple hillbillies.” (For the record, Miles, who I call my Kentucky brother, did not respond but I suspect he is deeply involved in some sort of Shootout-week debauchery.)

How did that happen in the space of four years, especially in 2020 when COVID-19 shut down most of the nation’s top go-fast boating events?

You could credit pent-up demand created by those cancellations, and I’d partially agree. But that paints an incomplete picture. No other weekend event speedonthewater.com reported on this year has realized that benefit. Most of the few that ran saw participation decline.

The simple truth is that Hoefling, Martin and Miles did a fine job promoting their happening, dealt seamlessly with pandemic social distancing guidelines in their state and got creative with food trucks and such. They are Southern gentlemen (OK, that could be a stretch for Miles) and their grace under pressure and hospitality made their fourth annual event a true success in a year when such successes were few and far between. Expect that success to continue per Netwon’s law of motion.

Take a bow, guys. You earned it.

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