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The Lake Cumberland Association is hoping to set a world record this Saturday at the Lake Cumberland Raft-Up 2010. Organizers are hoping to tie together 2,000 boats near Conley Bottom in Wayne County. The previous mark was set in 2004 at Lake Norman in North Carolina (pictured).

With any luck, Lake Cumberland will be home to a world record after this week-end. On Saturday, the Lake Cumberland Association (LCA) will attempt to gain entry into the Guinness Book of World Records by setting the mark for most boats tied together. Called the “Lake Cumberland Raft-Up 2010,” the event will attempt to gather as many as 2,000 boats of all sizes and types at Tate Landing, just west of Conley Bottom in Wayne County. The current record is 1454 boats, held by an association on Lake Norman in North Carolina. “This is a lakewide event (purposed) to generate more excitement and create something fun and attention to Lake Cumberland,” said J.D. Hamilton, owner and operator of Pulaski County’s Lee’s Ford Marina and current president of the LCA. The lake could use the good publicity. Hamilton acknowledged that times have been difficult for marina owners and others who make their living off of Lake Cumberland following the decision by the U.S. Corps of Engineers to lower the lake level significantly in order to ease pressure on an ailing Wolf Creek Dam in 2007. “We want to get the word out that it’s still a great lake,” said Hamilton. “We want to undo some of the damage that’s been done.” The Lake Norman bunch are the only record-holders ever in this category — and they’ve set the record six times. It was first set on June 28, 1998, with only 263 boats. The feat was repeated in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003 and most recently on July 31, 2004, with the 1,454 total. Craig Stratton, an avid boater, had heard of this kind of record before, and one day several months ago during a conversation with Hamilton at Lee’s Ford, he pitched the idea of doing something similar here on Lake Cumberland. “I’ve been boating on Lake Cumberland for years, and I subscribe to several different boating magazines, and had seen about different raft-ups across the country,” said Stratton. “I said that we needed to have some event that would create the equivalency of an additional holiday weekend on the lake.” Hamilton loved the idea and the LCA unanimously approved it. With less than 90 days to throw the event together — “They’ve done a fantastic job,” said Hamilton — Stratton has been the point person for the event, moonlighting from his regular job on the renewable energy industry to help put together something truly unique on Lake Cumberland. Mike Janela is a record manager from Guinness, the world’s authority on one-of-a-kind historic accomplishments, both large and small, and will be the adjudicator for this event, meaning he’ll be in charge of counting the boats and making the determination as to whether or not the record has indeed been broken. Though such a challenge may seem a bit frivolous to some, Janela knows world records come in all shapes, sizes and types. “Anytime you get a chance to break a world record, you try to take it,” he said. “Anytime you can try and be the best at something, you take that chance.” Janela said the guidelines have been sent to the LCA, and he’ll be there the morning of the event, stopwatch and binoculars in hand, to make sure every detail is followed to the latter. “Some of the guidelines are that all the boats have to be tied together by some means, whether ropes, cords, or cables, and have to be ties together in one single continuous structure for at least one minute,” said Janela. “You have to have at least one person in each boat the entire time. “This is something that’s very popular with people do all the time in lake communities,” he added. “People just want to do it on the grandest scale every time.” If the record is successfully broken, the LCA will be presented with an official certificate marking them as the world record holders in this particular category. The LCA has requested all boaters from across Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Tennessee to join in the effort. All interested participants are invited to register for the event at any of the lake’s nine marinas or online at lakecumberlandraftup.com, the official website of the Lake Cumberland Raft Up 2010. The site provides details on each of the participating marinas as well as information such as tips for first time “Raft-Up” participants. The cost to be involved is $20; for that, you get a decal for your boat and a free t-shirt. Organizations such as the Corps of Engineers and Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife will have boats entered into the event. The event runs from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and the actual counting is scheduled to begin around 4 p.m. Hamilton thinks the Raft-Up will be “a success regardless” of whether or not the record is set — “but I am very optimistic.” If it is a success, it will be not just for the numbers but because of the history made that those taking part will remember for years to come. “The most important part of our job is monitoring and documenting (the effort), but the other part of it is inspiring people to do extraordinary things, and we take a lot of pride in being the arbiters of that,” said Janela. “It’s a bond the forms between all these people and they’ll be able to talk about it in the future, about the time they broke the Guinness world record. That means you’re the best in world at something. Everyone in the Lake Cumberland area has strong local ties to the lake, so to have this distinction is just tremendous and incredible.”

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