By sign-up numbers alone—180-plus boats—this weekend’s annual Kuttawa Cannonball Run in Kentucky most surely will go down as one of the four best-attended go-fast boating event of 2021. In April, the Desert Storm Poker Run in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., had more than 200 entries. The Florida Powerboat Club’s Key West Poker likely will see a similar turnout, as could the famed Lake Cumberland Poker Run in September..
That likely puts Kuttawa at No. 3 or No. 4 for the season depending on what happens at Lake Cumberland, making the fifth annual Kentucky event one for the books.
The Kuttawa fleet took over Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake on Saturday. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
But here’s what made this weekend’s Kuttawa turnout so spectacular. The event doesn’t have the West Coast boating mecca of Lake Havasu or storied Key West as its playground. Lovely as Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lakes for the 120-mile roundtrip run are, they’re not sexy waterways. With less than 1,000 residents, Kuttawa is hardly a hub of wild nightlife.
And yet despite all of that, the event went from 140 registered boats in 2020 to 180-plus signed up this year.
So what’s the draw? Adam Seraphine, who hauled his canopied, molten-red Outerlimits SV 40 all the way from the Minnesota to the event for the second year in a row, put it best.
“It’s all about the people,” he said during a tequila-infused dinner on Friday night at HU-B’s, a good-time waterfront eatery in Kuttawa Marina owned by locals Wayne and Lisa Breedlove.
Enjoy more images from the fifth annual Kuttawa Cannonball Run in the slideshow above.
Upstate New York charisma-bomb Nolan Ferris, who captivated the crowd during last night’s auction that raised more than $50,000 for the event’s benefitting charities, echoed Seraphine’s sentiments.
“I have been to poker runs all over the country,” he said, with tears in his eyes, as the auction concluded. “And you are absolutely the nicest group of people I’ve ever met.”
Among those people are Jeff Hoefling, Terry Martin and Stephen Miles, the organizers of the event. A trio of gracious Southern gentlemen, they set an inclusive vibe. There’s no pretense or posturing among brand-loyal owners. There is no cool-kids club in the Kuttawa Cannonball Run.
There is only, as Miles once described it, “a bunch of Americans just being Americans.”
“And this year, the auction was freaking crazy—unbelievable,” he said.”It wouldn’t have been one-tenth of what it was without Nolan Ferris. That’s one charismatic human being.”
For the second-year in a row, Jack Gladke brought his prized Red Baron, a 2008 Donzi 38ZRC, to the run. And like his fellow Upstate New Yorker Ferris, he was once again smitten by the people involved.
“The people make the event,” he said. “Everybody from the hotel to the Hu-B’s staff was very friendly and accommodating.
“It was a blast,” he added.
Even a little skeg damage wasn’t enough to keep Minnesota’s Adam Seraphine from enjoying himself for the second year in a row at the Kuttawa Cannonball Run.
Look for a comprehensive feature on the 2021 Kuttawa Cannonball Run in issue No. 3 of Speed On The Water digital magazine.