GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Smokin' the Lake organizers couldn't have asked for more beautiful weather this weekend. The 11th annual competition brought over 1,000 spectators to The Dock Bar and Grill in Gulfport for the fast and furious competition.
Crowds cheered as speed boats zoomed through the water, reaching speeds greater than 100 mph. For one spectator and his group, the race is pretty special.
"Last year, my son-in-law flipped at this very race, and he didn't race for the rest of the season. We went to all the races because we already had hotels booked and we really enjoyed it," said Robert Willis.
Willis and his team of 30 are from Sorrento, LA. He says it feels good to have his son-in-law back out on the water, and he is enjoying one of their first races of the season.
"They take care of us. The food is really good. The atmosphere is good. It's a good family atmosphere. We really enjoy it," said Willis.
Organizer Woody Bailey couldn't agree more.
"We've got a great turn out with the teams, and it's very similar to last year, but I think we have some more crowd enthusiasm. I think the spectators are coming back out," said Bailey.
With these boats going so fast, it's pretty hard for spectators to grab a picture or even a video, but when you bring a drone to hover over the water and record video as these boats pass by, it's hard to miss anything.
"The best video it gets is where people can't get, like over the water. You can get some great pictures but aerial shots, that's where you get some good footage," said Alex Vasquez.
Sam and Alex Vasquez own Mississippi Brewing Company, which is a neighboring business to the Dock Bar and Grill. Even though the event is growing every year, the restaurant has been able to accommodate the crowd, and organizers don't think they will be outgrowing The Dock anytime soon.
"This is a good venue. This is a large facility so you can run a lot of boats right here. It's very convenient to this particular event," said Bailey.
Organizers said throughout the weekend long event they saw nearly 2,000 spectators.