At Sunday’s Harpswell lobster boat races only 38 boats showed up. That’s eight fewer boats than in 2018.
In contrast to the low number of contestants, there were a “ton of spectator boats” lining both sides of the racecourse, and the shore “was crowded with spectators,” says Jon Johansen, president of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association.
There were several good races. One was Diesel Class J (551 to 700 hp, 36 feet to 39 feet 11 inches). That pitted Heather Thompson’s Gold Digger, a Wayne Beal 36 with a 675-hp Scania, which made a several-hour steam from Harrington to get to the races, against Carl Anderson’s Danica Hailey, and Alan Dugas’ Delusional.
It was close between Gold Digger and Danica Hailey, but Gold Digger won at 40.8 mph, with Delusional in third place.
Steve Johnson in Bud & Dawn, a Jingle Johnson 28 with a 1,100-hp Chevy, had last raced in Rockland’s Gas Class E (V8, over 525 cid, 28 feet and over, turbos/superchargers, alcohol and nitro), which he won, hitting 53.6 mph.
Sometime after that Johnson “blew it up” says Johansen, but still managed a showing at Harpswell, only with a 6-cylinder gas engine that pushed him up to about 30 mph. Rumor has it that Johnson has obtained a 4,000-hp turbo (make unknown), which should be ready for next year’s races.
Harpswell is the only venue on the lobster boat racing circuit with the Slowest Boat Race. In this race first goes to the last-place boat. It was a two-boat matchup: Jesse Mitchell’s Phoenix taking second at 7.5 mph and then being moved up to first place while Ann Johansen’s Cindy Jen sped across the line first at 14.1 mph but was moved down to second place.
Jeremy Beal’s Maria’s Nightmare — a Mussel Ridge 28 with a 2,500-hp Chevy that beat Wild Wild West, a West 28 with a 1,050-hp Isotta Fraschini, at the Moosabec Reach races at something over 60 mph — was a no-show for Harpswell. The word is that Maria’s Nightmare is suffering from an ignition problem. She only gets 4,000 rpm but needs another 1,500 rpm.
Without Maria’s Nightmare, it was up to Wild Wild West and Motivation, a Northern Bay 38 with a 1,000-hp Cat, which had supposedly broken down but still made it to the races, to provide the high-speed entertainment. And they did.
“They stole the show,” says Johansen. Wild Wild West won the Diesel Free-For-All at 56 mph and the Fastest Lobster Boat race at 52 mph.
The next race is Aug. 10 at Winter Harbor.