Smokin The Sound Prepares To Fire Up Coast Tourism - - The News for South Mississippi

Smokin The Sound Prepares To Fire Up Coast Tourism

BILOXI (WLOX) -- The next big tourism event in south Mississippi is Smokin the Sound. The fourth annual power boat races roar into town next week.

Smokin the Sound is spring's version of Cruisin the Coast. It was designed to bring people to the area at a time when tourism is typically slow.

Just beyond the new sand piled along Biloxi's shoreline. And just past the new wooden piers at the small craft harbor are the gentle waters of the Mississippi Sound. In a week, the tranquil scene will give way to the fury of power boats, and the Offshore Super Series.

"The best way I can describe racing offshore boats is it's like an organized train wreck," Matt Reed said.

Reed is Hard Rock's director of player development. He's also one of the competitors who will race across the sound at speeds approaching 150 miles per hour.

"A lot of people don't know me in this realm. But, they're going to see a completely different guy," he laughed.

As many as 30 teams from all over the world will whip around the Biloxi race course next week, zooming over water that not too long ago was littered with hurricane debris. That's what makes Smokin the Sound so significant to tourism leaders. It showcases south Mississippi's recovery at a time when the area needs more than birds to visit the beach.

Woody Bailey is one of Smokin the Sound's main organizers.

"That's the whole intent of this event is have the biggest economic impact we can have on our economy," he said.

On Monday, shrimp boats worked in the sound near Point Cadet, digging storm debris out of the channel. Those boats scatter a week from Saturday, when Biloxi's shoreline shares the spotlight with Smokin the Sound.

"We're going to get things stirred up," Bailey said. "It just kind of gets me excited even thinking about them being out there."

Smokin the Sound staff members have done plenty of clean up work lately, getting sites ready for the annual boat races. Their main focus has been down at Point Cadet. College board members gave Smokin the Sound permission to turn the old J.L. Scott Marine Education site into a race village. Boat owners arrive at the race village next week.

"This is a real shot in the arm to get our coast tourism back and going," said Rusty David, another one of the event organizers. "And we're excited to have this piece of property to work with. It's one of the most beautiful views on the Mississippi Gulf Coast."

Smokin the Sound participants arrive at the Point Cadet race village next Wednesday. But they won't practice until April 5. The actual races are on Sunday, April 6.

By Brad Kessie

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