At the end of May, Stewart Workman of SW Boatworks, the builder of Calvin Beal and Young Brothers boats in Lamoine, Maine, said he would shortly be doing something he’s “been waiting 40 years for” - launching one of his own boats for himself. Workman has owned other boats before, “but not one of mine.”

Scheduled to go into the water on June 3 was the Alice Frances, a 36’ x 13’ 9” Calvin that’s named for his wife. The spelling “Frances,” Workman notes, is the “female version of Francis.” The new boat, powered by a 450-hp Cummins QSL9, replaces a 34 Calvin and “is just a basic lobster boat, no storage and has a closed stern.” It’s composite constructed with, says Workman, “a “regular gelcoated deck.” The Alice Frances will be fishing Maine’s Gouldsboro Bay.

Beyond the launching of the Alice Frances, SW Boatworks is building a “couple of yachts” but no lobster boats, though some hulls and tops are being built. “It’s slowed down as far as fishing boats,” says Workman. He attributes that to “all the lobster regulating.”

Though Workman says the Alice Frances won’t be running down any of Maine’s lobster boat race courses - “not in races; it’s a workboat” - as this Around the Yards column is being written, it’s the end of May and June 15 and June 16 marks the beginning of the 2024 Maine Lobster Boat Racing season. Like last season, the first race will be in Boothbay on Saturday June 15, followed by Rockland on Sunday, June 16. Last year, 38 boats raced in Boothbay and 33 in Rockland. There will be 11 races this year, concluding on Aug. 18 in Portland.

Last year Jeremy Beal’s Maria’s Nightmare II (a Wayne Beal 32 with a 1,000-hp Isotta) was the boat to beat on both days, hitting 57.5 mph in the Diesel Free For All at Boothbay. Throughout the racing season, she remained the boat to beat and is expected to return for this year’s races.

It’s only a rumor, but Randy Durkee is supposed to be putting a big gas motor — 2,000-hp - in Black Diamond, so he can compete,” said Jon Johansen, president of Maine Lobster Boat Racing. Last year Black Diamond, a Holland 32, raced with a 454 Chevy. An increase of almost 1,400-hp would have Black Diamond mixing it up with a select few others at the head of the pack.

A boat that won’t be in the 2024 races is Cameron Crawford’s Wild Wild West (a West 28 with a 1,050-hp Isotta) that has hit over 60 mph. “They want to do some structural work and cosmetics,” said Johansen, and don’t have time to do it before the races. But when you have a boat that is the former diesel-class record holder, the temptation to get back on the racing course and regain that title might prove to be too great to resist. We’ll see.

In the Gasoline Class, Shawn Alley’s Little Girl, a Calvin Beal 28 that has won races at over 50 mph, is supposed to be racing this year. Previously, Little Girl had been powered with a 466 Ford, but hasn’t raced for several years due to engine troubles. The Ford was sent to the Midwest but couldn’t be repaired, and Alley, described as a “diehard Ford man,” has surrendered to the inevitable and thus Little Girl is now powered with a Chevy engine.

Starting with this year’s races, Diesel Class N has been divided into two races: Class N (A) 40 feet and over, 751 to 1,000 hp, and Class N (B) 40 feet and over, 1001 hp and over. The change is because “a lot of the bigger boats can’t compete with the high horsepower of the smaller boats,” says Johansen.

2024 Maine Lobster Boat Races Schedule

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

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