Maine’s 2020 lobster boat racing season, which began in June in Rockland and ended in August in Portland, was like no other. The continual threat of the coronavirus wiped out five races, leaving just six locations on the roster. The pandemic also affected the number of boats that showed up for some races.

A good example was Moosabec Reach with 81 lobster boats coming to the starting line this year, whereas it was 125 boats in 2019. Altogether, 379 boats showed up for the five races, though many of those raced at more than one event. 

The Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association operates the races, with about 30 races held at each event, over a course averaging just under a mile long. The schedule at each location varies slightly, but a typical race day starts with the Class A Skiffs race, for skiffs 16 feet and under with outboards up to 30 hp, operator 18 years and under. There could be as many as three skiff races, based on engine type and horsepower. Those are followed by the Gas Powered Work Boat category for boats 24 feet and up. Since most fishermen’s boats are diesel powered, that’s the biggest racing category, with as many as 15 races, broken up by horsepower and boat size. It starts with race number nine, Diesel Class A  — Up to 235 hp, 24 to 31 feet — and ends with Race 24 Class O — Non-working boats, any length, any horsepower.

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Michael Crowley is the former Boats & Gear editor for National Fisherman.

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