Lobster boat racing season kicks off in Maine

In Maine it’s another season of lobster boat racing, with the first race this past Saturday at Boothbay Harbor (the 32nd consecutive year for Boothbay), followed by round two a day later in Rockland.

Even though the weather forecast was for rain, fog and 30-knot winds, “we got nothing,” says Jon Johansen, president of the Maine Lobster Boat Association.

That forecast might have scared off a few boats, but 33 contenders showed up to race in Boothbay and 50 boats in Rockland.

Cameron Crawford’s 28-foot Wild, Wild West was a surprise show at Boothbay, as the word was Crawford wasn’t going to be able to race until Bass Harbor (June 25) because Wild, Wild West’s engine had to be worked on. But there she was at Boothbay, taking first place at 56.5 mph. Obviously, Wild, Wild West’s 1,050-hp Isotta Fraschini was not suffering for a lack of power, though that time is a bit short of last year’s Bass Harbor run, where Crawford set a new diesel speed record of 60.6 mph.

Actually, those speeds might be a bit slower than a boat’s actual speed, which is best determined if you are dead ahead of the oncoming boats. But that’s not the best situation to be in.

“That’s crazy,” says Johansen, “because some come straight at you and try to run you over.”

Back when, they often tried to determine speed from a small skiff that was dead center at the finish line, Johansen remembers being on a 44 Calvin and the guy at the wheel, was “watching boats to his side and never paid attention to boats in front of him.” He missed the skiff and the guy holding the radar gun by 10 feet. “I never saw him,” said the guy driving the boat.

Not wanting to be run over, the radar gun is now off the to the side of the course and at an angle to the oncoming boats.

After Rockland, there are nine more races, starting with Bass Harbor on June 25 and ending on Aug. 20 in Portland. Many fishermen are looking forward to Stonington on July 9. It usually has the largest turnout in both spectators and racers.

This year Scania has picked the Stonington lobster boat races to introduce its new 800-hp, 13-liter diesel. The whole thing starts the night before the races at the annual Boat Race Dance with Stesha Cano and the Wicked Friggin’ Jerks, a rock, blues and funk band. So drop into Stonington and party down.

About the author

Michael Crowley

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

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