June 27 marked the beginning of Maine’s 2020 lobster boat racing season with 62 boats coming to the starting line at the Rockland Lobster Boat Races on Saturday and 49 boats in Bass Harbor the following day.

Rockland was supposed to be the second race in Maine’s lobster racing season, but after the Boothbay races, which were scheduled for June 20, got dropped for pandemic-related reasons, Rockland became number one. It was then moved back from June 21 to June 27 to be on the same weekend as the June 28 races at Bass Harbor.

“The races went real good,” said Jon Johansen, president of Maine Lobster Boat Racing, who noted that of the four major summer events that Rockland normally hosts — Maine Lobster Boat Races, Maine Lobster Festival, North Atlantic Blues Festival, Maine Boat and Home Show — the lobster boat races is the only event not to be canceled because of covid-19.

A number of the races were very close. One of those was Diesel Class C (236 to 335 hp, 24 to 33 feet) where Last Design, a 31 Libby with a 300-hp Cat, just edged out Venom, a Mussel Ridge 28 with a 300-hp Sisu. Last Design crossed the finish line at 36 mph.

Just because someone won at Rockland didn’t mean they would prevail the next day at Bass Harbor. That was certainly the case for the Miss Kylee, a Holland 32 with a 430-hp diesel who, said Johansen, “walked away from the other four boats in Rockland with maybe a two-boat lead.” She was clocked at 38.5 mph in the Diesel Class E race (336 to 435 h.p., 24 to 33 feet). However, the next day in Bass Harbor, Miss Kylee lost by a boat length to High Voltage, an AJ 28 with a 400-hp Yanmar, which had taken second the previous day.

At Bass Harbor, Last Design suffered the same fate, losing out to Venom.

The fastest boat in Rockland was Blue Eyed Girl, a Northern Bay 38 with a 900-h.p Scania that hit 49 mph in the Diesel Class K class (701 to 900 hp, 28 feet and over) and 48.4 mph in the Diesel Free For All.

Coming in second in the Diesel Free For All was Maria’s Nightmare, a Mussel Ridge 28 with a 600-hp Cummins (last year, she had a 2,500-hp Chevy), which won the Diesel Class I (551 to 700 hp, 36 feet and over) race at 46.8 mph and the Fastest Lobster Boat race at 40.3 mph.

The following day Blue Eyed Girl was not at Bass Harbor, leaving the Diesel Free For All race to Maria’s Nightmare. Gold Digger, a Wayne Beal 36 with a 675-hp Scania took second and then beat Maria’s Nightmare in the Fastest Lobster Boat race. (There wasn’t a radar gun at Bass Harbor, so boat speeds weren’t available.)

The next race is this coming weekend, Saturday July 4, at Moosabec Reach, which lies between Jonesport and Beals Island. It should be fun. Last year 125 boats showed up. So head on down to what has always been the stronghold of Maine lobster boat racing.   

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

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