The goal was 200 lobster boats taking the starter’s flag at the Winter Harbor lobster boat races this past Saturday. That was to be in honor of Keith Young, who has been a big part of Winter Harbor’s lobster boat racing for the past 40 years.
By day’s end 167 boats, spread out over 32 races, left the starting line. It wasn’t 200, but it was a lot of boats for Keith, and a big jump past the 96 boats that lined up in 2018.
That many boats made for some crowded races. Race 21, Diesel Class N, 49 feet and over, 751 hp and over, had 13 boats. There were other races with as many boats, but in terms of pure numbers, none of them matched Diesel Class M(B) 40 feet and over, 501 to 750 hp, with 31 boats. They had to be broken up into three heats with the top boats in each heat matched up in a finals race, which Miss Amity won at 35.2 mph with Kimberly Ann taking second.
Winter Harbor’s Lady Skippers Race has been the only race this year restricted to female boat owners with a lobstering license. In previous races women who entered races didn’t have to be commercially licensed. Heather Thompson in Gold Digger won the Winter Harbor race at 40.2 mph with Robin Faulkingham taking second in Margaret E.
Something everyone was waiting for was the drawing to see whose name would be selected to win the Mitchell Cove 35 bare hull. All you had to do was race and pay an entrance fee to enter the drawing. The winner was Brian Stout of Milbridge, who didn’t win his Diesel Class F 336 to 435 hp, 34 feet and over race in the Sunshine Chalet. But he came away with the grand prize of the day.
A near disaster was avoided in the last race, the Fastest Lobster Boat race. Jeremy Beal, who had won the earlier Gasoline Free For All race in Marie’s Nightmare, was lined up against Cameron Crawford in Wild Wild West, Tom Clemons in Motivation and Nick Wiberg in the Miss Katie.
By the time of the race the water was pretty choppy. Not long after the start, Marie’s Nightmare was hitting an estimated 63 mph when Beal hit the throttle and “rolled the boat right up on its side. You could see the propeller,” says Jon Johansen president of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association.
After Maria’s Nightmare straightened up, “he hit it again and rolled it on its side again.” Johansen says. “It was a damn good thing he was strapped in because he would have gone over (the side).”
The next day the races moved to Pemaquid, with 67 boats racing. It’s probably no surprise that Beal and Maria’s Nightmare took the day off. It was a surprise when Heather Thompson, who had not lost a race in her class this year, was beaten by Nick Wiberg’s Miss Katie, which previously was Uncle’s UFO, in the Diesel, 651 to 801 hp, 28 feet and over race.
This weekend the last two races of the season are on Saturday the 17th at Long Island, and the next day at Portland.