Through the renovation of his 42-foot Fountain sportboat built in 1999, Jeff Hoefling of Evansville, Ind., got to know Stephen Miles of Owensboro, Ky., about two years ago. Hoefling owns a machine shop called Lively Machine Company, as well as a detailing business for upscale motor coaches and powerboats. As for Miles, well, pretty much everyone in the high-performance powerboating community knows him as the man behind Stephen Miles Design, one of the top graphic design and painting outfits in the go-fast boating world.
Hoefling and Miles became fast friends, as well as business associates as Hoefling also helps maintain machinery used at Miles’ paint shop.
“Steve is a Picasso with boat paint,” said Hoefling. “And he’s a hard guy not to like. He’s a ton of fun. OK, I pretty much love the guy.”
The feeling is mutual. “Jeff is just one of the best dudes I know,” said Miles.
During one of their many conversations this winter, Hoefling floated the idea of a poker run on Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, a pair of connected Kentucky waterways, and Miles loved it. In short order, Hoefling — through his friend Mike Lewis — found REBOOT Combat Recovery, a charity benefiting veterans reentering civilian life, for the event. He selected June 16-17 as a date and started working, with a lot of help from his girlfriend, Audra Meyer, on insurance. And he found a host venue, Kuttawa Harbor Marina.
“The whole thing really was Jeff’s idea,” said Miles.
That is, of course, the short version. A ton of work has gone into organizing the run so far — and there’s still a ton of work to do. But attracting interest has been easy.
“We’ve gotten crazy great feedback,” said Hoefling. “Everybody in our area has found out about it and thinks it’s a great idea. The lakes are centrally located so people can get to them from pretty much everywhere in the Midwest.
“The boating community is a great community,” he continued. “Everybody has a big heart and wants to do something that will raise a lot of money to help a lot of people. There’s a lot of camaraderie in the boating community, especially in our area.”
From Kuttawa Harbor, the poker run fleet will travel — with card stops along the way — 64 miles to The Breakers Marina in Buchanan, Tenn., for lunch. For participants in smaller boats who prefer a shorter course, an abbreviated version will be offered. Hoefling said he hasn’t targeted a set number of entries, but that the waterways are large enough to accommodate a healthy group of go-fast catamarans and V-bottoms.
“Kentucky Lake, where most of the run will be, is big enough to handle of couple of hundred boats,” he said. “Of course, we’re not expecting that. If we have 20, 30, 40, 50 boats or even more we’d be ecstatic.”
“Vinnie Diorio will be at the event with his (Stephen Miles Design-painted) Outerlimts SV 43,” said Miles. “And hopefully, a few more members of the Outerlimits team will there, too.”
Matt Trulio is an award-winning journalist who has covered the high-performance powerboat world since 1995. He wrote for Powerboat magazine for 17 years and was the magazine’s editor at large until it ceased publication in 2011. Trulio is the founder, editor-in-chief and publisher of speedonthewater.com, a daily news site that covers the high-performance powerboat realm. He’s also the former editor of Sportboat magazine.