Fastest lobster boats: Racing on the Reach

Jonesport and Beals Island lobstermen have always loved a good race, from the days of the sailing Moosabec Reach boats to the diesel- and gas-powered lobster boats of today. That enthusiasm is a big reason why 125 boats showed up for Saturday’s Moosabec Reach Lobster Boat Races — 25 more boats than a year ago.
Part of the day’s events was a tribute to the late Galen Alley with upward of 50 boats making a run up the racecourse in his memory. Alley, who died Jan. 16, 2019, in an automobile accident, was a major force in lobster boat racing for a good 10 years, setting the speed record of 72.8 mph in his Foolish Pleasure.
One of Saturday’s surprises was the appearance of Jeremy Beal’s Maria’s Nightmare, a Mussel Ridge 28 with a 2,500-hp Chevy. Maria’s Nightmare made the first two races at Boothbay and Rockland but didn’t do well and didn’t show up on June 23 for the Bass Harbor races. But she certainly was at Moosabec Reach. Maria’s Nightmare was the only boat in her class (Gasoline Class E — V8, over 525 cid, 28 feet and over superchargers/turbo), so winning that race wasn’t a problem. The really big surprise was the last race of the day, the World’s Fastest Recreational Lobster Boat where Maria’s Nightmare ran away from Cameron Crawford’s Wild Wild West, a West 28 with a 1,050-hp Isotta.
Unfortunately, the race committee’s radar gun wasn’t working. So the official speed on Maria’s Nightmare when she hit the finish line is unknown. But because “she beat Wild Wild West by a good margin,” says Jon Johansen, president of Maine Lobster Boat Racing, and since Wild Wild West has been running just under 60 mph, he figures Maria’s Nightmare was going well over 60 mph.
At a horsepower level more common to the average lobsterman, Calvin Beal Jr. came out in a new boat, the Jeanine Marie, a Calvin 30 with a 235-hp Cummins, and won his race (Diesel, Class A up to 235 hp, 24 to 31 feet) against seven other boats “just walking away,” says Johansen.
A boat that has dominated Diesel Class G (436 to 550 hp, 28 to 35 feet) for the past couple of years learned what it means not to always be the first across the finish line. That would be Dana Beal’s Right Stuff, a Libby 34 with a 500-hp Cummins. She was matched up against three other boats, including Jeremy Beal’s Semper Fi, a Crowley 28 that had been rebuilt by Wayne Beal and had a 500-hp Cummins for power. This was Semper Fi’s first race, and she won it. Right Stuff was second.
One thing that every lobsterman who depends on his boat to earn a living has to think about at some point in the time leading up to a race is, “What happens if something goes wrong with my engine?” One possible casualty of the Moosabec Reach races was Wayne Rich’s Wide Open, a Robert Rich 26 with a 350 Chevy.
“I think we lost Wide Open,” says Johansen of the Gasoline Class B, V8, up to 375 cid, 24 feet and over. “He made the run down in his class, got to the finish line and had to be towed off.” Johansen later saw Wide Open at a nearby boatbuilder’s shop.
Hopefully Wide Open will be at the next race, which will be at Stonington this coming Sunday, July 7.

About the author

Michael Crowley

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

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