When they reached 105 registered boats with five full days to go, organizers of this weekend’s fourth annual Kuttawa Cannonball Run in Kentucky knew they had something special on their hands. In 2019 the event on Barkley Lake and Lake Kentucky had attracted 68 registered boats. Any worries that COVID-19 would hamper this year’s happening proved unnecesssary.
With its strongest turnout to date, this weekend’s Kuttawa Cannonball Run set a strong tone for the summer boating season. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix/speedonthewater.com.
Today’s run saw 142 to 145 registered boats—organizer Jeff Hoefling isn’t yet certain of the final count—take to the water for a day without incident. In all, some 18 states were represented in the fleet of high-performance catamarans, V-bottom sportboats and center consoles. More than 350 people participated in the event.
“We left around 10 or 10:30 this morning,” said Hoefling. “We waited for the helicopter—no one got throttle happy—then paraded through Barkley Channel from Barkley Lake to Lake Kentucky to honor a Jeff Ketchum (a popular young Tennessee-based powerboater who died in March).”
From there, the fleet headed for its lunch stop at Breakers Marina, some 64 miles from its Kuttawa Harbor Marina home base. Though one stop was “a bit overwhelmed” with the size of the fleet, said Hoefling, the run proceeded without a hitch. Most of the boats are now back in Kuttawa Harbor Marina and dinner, catered by food trucks offering eight different cuisines, is in process. The event’s award ceremony will begin shortly.
Some 18 states were represented in the 2020 Kuttawa Cannonball Run fleet.
Hoefling doesn’t have a total of how much money the event raised for its four local charities. But thanks to Michigan-based performance boat owner Burton Kirsten, who didn’t make it this weekend, he and his fellow organizers started the event with a $1,000 check for each cause.
“We didn’t expect this kind of turnout—it’s a little overwhelming,” Hoefling said, then laughed. “We ran out of stickers yesterday. We ran out of T-shirts today. We’re going to another run for people who want them in a couple of weeks.”
Said fellow Kuttawa Cannonball Run organizer Stephen Miles of Design in Owensboro, Ky., “It’s unbelievable. We’ve had one hell of turnout. I feel like we’re just out here as a bunch of Americans being Americans.”
“A bunch of Americans being Americans.”—Stephen Miles.