Five races have been completed, bringing 212 boats to the starter’s line in the 2023 Maine Lobster Boat Racing Season. The number would be higher, but the Jonesport-Beals (Moosabec Reach) race was postponed until Aug. 5 due to foggy conditions.
Friendship hoisted the most recent race with 30 boats arriving on Sunday, July 23. Fog has been an issue for this year’s races, and it might have kept some lobstermen from making the trip to Friendship, especially if they would have been traveling down the coast to Friendship.
“You had 25 yards, maybe 50 yards visibility through the Muscle Ridge Shoals,” says Jon Johansen, president of Maine Lobster Boat Racing, until about Port Clyde when the fog cleared off, which made the turn to Friendship much easier. (Johansen experienced that firsthand while steaming down from Searsport.) The boats that made it to Friendship found “cash prizes and all kinds of gift certificates from all kinds of bait people and from Hamilton Marine,” says Johansen.
Foolish Pleasure (30’ Riley Beal, 650-hp, 455 Stroker) showed up for its first race of the season and ran unopposed in Gasoline Class D and won the Gasoline Free For All. Its Fastest time was 42 mph, though Johansen thinks it can do better than that.
Two locals that battled it out were the Simmons brothers, Keith in Isaac & Colby, and his brother, Andrew, in Carson & Emma. Both Simmons boats are Wayne Beal 46s with a 1,400 h.p. MAN engines. Their first dual was in Diesel Class N – 40 feet and over; 751 hp and over. The Simmons brother’s boats were close, but Tom Clemons won the race in 4 Girls, a Wesmac 46 with a 1,000-hp Caterpillar, with Keith taking second and Andrew third. The Simmons brothers went at it again in the Fastest Friendship Lobster Boat race and this time Andrew and the Carson & Emma crossed the line first and Keith in the Isaac & Colby was second.
However, there was a bit of a dispute between the Simmons brothers about the second race. “Keith claimed his brother jumped him at the start,” says Johansen, “and his brother (Andrew) said, ‘Yes I did!’” The results weren’t changed.
Johansen says the “big races of the day were the Diesel Free For All and the Fastest Lobster Boat, matching up three previous rivals: Jeremy Beal’s Maria’s Nightmare II (Wayne Beal 32, 1,000-hp Isotta), Nick Wiberg’s Witching Hour (Northern Bay 36 with 900-hp Mack) and Jeff Eaton’s La Belle Vita (Northern Bay 38, 815-hp FPT). Maria’s Nightmare II took both races followed by La Belle Vita and Witching Hour. Maria’s Nightmare II fastest time was 57 mph.
Six races remain: Harpswell, Sunday, July 30; Winter Harbor, Saturday, August 12; Merritt Barckett (Pemaquid), Sunday, August 13; Long Island, Saturday, August 19. The last race is the MS Harborfest in Portland on Sunday, Aug. 20.