Sunday, July 28, 52 boats came to Friendship for the fourth race of Maine’s 2020 lobster boat racing season. That was 13 more boats than in 2019. “We had a good turnout. Boats from all over and a bunch from Down East,” says Jon Johansen, president of Maine Lobster Boat Racing.

One of the best match-ups was between Isaac & Colby, a 46 Wayne Beal with 1,400-hp MAN, and Salt Shaker, a new 42 Mussel Ridge with a 1,000-hp MAN that was launched in June. They met twice, first in Diesel Class N (40 feet and over, 751 hp and over) and next in the Fastest Friendship Lobster Boat race.

In the Diesel Class N race, Isaac & Colby won by a boat length, but in the Fastest Friendship Lobster Boat race, coming down the course it was bow-to-bow; not until the end did Isaac & Colby squeeze out the win, crossing the finish line at 35.7 mph, about two feet ahead of Salt Shaker. It might have been too close to call but — in an almost unheard of occurrence — someone happened to film the two boats as they crossed the finish line, which gave the decision to Isaac & Colby. Though as Johansen noted, “for a brand new boat, doing what he (Salt Shaker) was doing, that was really impressive.”

It doesn’t happen often but every now and then a lobster boat hurtling down one of Maine’s roughly mile-long courses, with the throttle slammed down hard, proves to be more than the engine can handle. That appears to have happened to Last Design, a Libby 31 with a 300-hp Caterpillar in Diesel Class C (236 to 335 hp, 24 to 34 feet). Last Design was racing Venom, a Mussel Ridge 28 with a 300-hp Sisu, when “stuff went through the turbo and into the engine,” says Johansen. After Venom crossed the finish line he came back and towed Last Design off the course.

Then Maria’s Nightmare, a Mussel Ridge 28 with a 600-hp Cummins, which has been clocked over 45 mph, finished his race in Diesel Class I (551 to 700 hp, 36 feet and over) but didn’t come out again to race. “Someone said he had a problem,” says Johansen.

The next race is Aug. 8 at Winter Harbor, followed by the last race of the season on Aug. 16 in Portland. Long Island had been scheduled for Aug. 15, but “supposedly it’s been canceled by the island’s selectmen,” says Johansen. “Selectmen overruled everyone and said, ‘Nope, not holding the races here.’” That was probably because of the Coronavirus. However, Johansen notes that the decision “is not going over well. I’m hearing that something’s going to happen.”

Stayed tuned.

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

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