Maine’s lobster boat racing season ended with races at Long Island and Portland on Aug. 19 and 20.
As always, the Portland event is not just about winning. It’s about raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Maine, thus the name, MS Harborfest Lobster Boat Race.
At the end of the day on Sunday, lobstermen had donated $11,225 to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. The money came from $20 entry fees, the sale of T-shirts and hats and prize money ($150 first place, $100 second place and $50 third place) donated by the winners. “Almost all the lobstermen turned the money back to MS,” says Jon Johansen, president of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association.
Fifty-six boats came to race at Portland and though they willingly gave up prize money, one racer in each diesel-class race stood a chance of winning 100 gallons of diesel fuel. Global Energy Solutions in Portland donated the fuel, as it has for the past several years. There was a drawing among participants in each race; you didn’t have to win to get the 100 gallons, you just had to compete.
There aren’t many women that enter the lobster boat races, but one that occasionally races is Heather Thompson with Gold Digger, a Wayne Beal 36 with a 675-hp Scania. Thompson showed up in Portland to take on Carl Anderson’s Danica Hailey, a Calvin Beal 36 with a 675-hp Scania, in Class J (551 to 700 hp, 36 to 40 feet). Anderson had won the previous day at Long Island, but in Portland, Thompson quickly took the lead and won by a boat length at 39.5 mph.
In Portland, Jeff Patterson needed to make up for the mental lapse of the previous day. Patterson and Simple Man, a Stanley 36 with a 315-hp Cummins, came up from Scituate, Mass., for the weekend’s events, further than any other racer.
At Long Island in the Diesel Class D race (236 to 335 hp, 36 to 40 feet), Simple Man had a good lead, but then 100 yards from the finish Patterson thought the race was over and turned into the spectator fleet. Alerted by VHF that he had not crossed the finish line, Patterson rounded up and tried to get back into the race but by then it was too late and Justin Papkee’s Pull N’Pray, a Repco 37 with a 300-hp Cat, took the win.
The next day in Portland it was a rematch, but this time Patterson had his eye firmly on the finish line and Simple Man won with a speed of 21.7 mph.
The fastest boat at both Long Island and Portland was Steve Johnson’s Lynn Marie, a Jingle Johnson 28 with a 1,000-hp Chevy. At Long Island, Wild Wild West, a West 28 with a 1,050 Isotta, took the Diesel Free-for-All at 55 mph, but couldn’t get by the faster gasoline powered Lynn Marie in the Fastest Lobster Boat race, which the Lynn Marie won at 54.6 mph.
In Portland, Wild Wild West took the Class L race (901 hp and over, 28 feet to 40 feet) at 56.4 mph, but did not enter the Diesel Free-for-All or the Fastest Lobster Boat race. Johansen says Wild Wild West probably didn’t race because at the end of the day “it was blowing pretty good, blowing 20 and creating a chop. I thank him for this, we don’t need an accident.”
Without competition from Wild Wild West, the Lynn Marie won the Fastest Lobster Boat race at 51 mph.
Lobster boats weren’t the only boats racing in Portland. The day was closed out with a tug boat race with six tugs competing. The 91-foot Andrew McAllister was probably hitting a little over 8 knots when she won that event.