Driving home to Gallatin, Tenn., yesterday from Kentucky’s Lake Cumberland, the scene of last weekend’s 15th annual Thunder Run, Justin Lucas, explained the challenges of producing an event on a waterway prone to floating debris each spring.
For longtime Thunder Run participant Justin Beischel of Cincinnati, Lake Cumberland is home-water. Photos by Pete Boden copyright Shoot 2 Thrill Pix.
“Debris in the water has been bad for the last few years on Lake Cumberland for Thunder Run, so that’s given the run a ‘bad name,’” said Lucas, who works closely with fellow Lake Cumberland Powerboat Club member Dan Weiss and other volunteers to product the mid-June happening. “Water conditions have been the main factor affecting our attendance for the past few years, and this time of year rain and wind can push debris into the lake.
“But the water was great this year,” he added. “There was very little debris.”
The Lucas family led the fleet in their 36-foot catamaran from Statement Marine.
This year’s Thunder Run attracted 72 boats, a fleet size Lucas said he finds far more manageable and enjoyable than those of the 100-plus-boat kind, which he’s also dealt with during years. Among the longtime Thunder Run participants in this year’s mix was Justin Beischel. The Cincinnati-based electrician drove his Skater Powerboats 368 catamaran with his friend, Brian Campbell, alongside him in his brand-new Performance Powerboats P 360 catamaran.
Beischel and Campbell are childhood friends who grew on the same street in Cincinnati and have known each other since they were “two or three years old,” Campbell said. Their fathers also were close friends.
Enjoy more images from the 2023 Lake Cumberland Thunder Run.
“This year was great,” said Beischel, who built the engines and the trailer for his 36-footer from the Douglas, Mich., custom high-performance catamaran company. “We’ve been doing this run since the beginning—this is our home-lake.”
Campbell, who is waiting on a new Nor-Tech 390 Sport center console color-matched to his Performance Powerboats 360 catamaran, left the event delighted with his experience. Some of that, of course, had to do with tackling the run in a new 36-foot cat equipped with Mercury Racing 450R outboard engines. He plans to keep the cat—Performance Powerboats P 360 hull No. 1—at his houseboat in the Jamestown Marina on the shores of Lake Cumberland this season.
Campbell’s 36-footer will be a frequent sight at Lake Cumberland this season.
“I loved the Thunder Run this time,” Campbell said. “I actually looked at my wife, Missy, and said ‘This is the best poker run we’ve ever done,’ and the ride quality of the P 360 and being up front in the smooth water was a big part of it.
“I am overwhelmed at the boat’s quality of craftsmanship,” he added.
Once Campbell takes delivery of the center console, he’ll keep it at his primary residence in Fort Pierce, Fla.
Kuttawa Cannonball Run organizing group member Jeff Hoefling ran his 39-foot Outerlimits V-bottom.
“The only thing up in the air is that I’m trying to put Mercury Racing 500R outboards on it,” he said. “I am hoping to hear something this week.”
A few weeks before last weekend’s Thunder Run, the entire Lucas family ran their Statement Marine 360 catamaran in the Kuttawa Cannonball Run in Kentucky. Kuttawa organizers Jeff Hoefling and Terry Martin, in turn, came to support the Lake Cumberland event. Hoefling ran his Outerlimits 39 GTX V-bottom with his girlfriend, Audra Meyer.
Martin and his wife, Melanie, hitched a ride in a friend’s center console.
“We had a great time supporting the Lake Cumberland Powerboat Club,” Martin said. “It’s always great to hang out and chat with like-minded boaters, some of whom we only see once or twice a year. That part is always awesome as, quite frankly, I’m just too busy to spend quality time with friends during the Kuttawa Cannonball Run. It’s a lot of work to put on these events.
“Justin and Dan do a great job,” he added. “And we love the water at Lake Cumberland.”
For much of the Thunder Run, Beischel and Campbell ran at or near the front of the pack in their 36-foot cats.
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