Maine’s 2020 lobster boat racing season started out with 11 races, the same number as the previous two years. But that was before the Coronavirus began chipping away at the race schedule.
The first race to fall was also the first race of the season, the 58th Annual Charles Begin Memorial Boothbay Harbor Lobster Boat Races on June 20. It was followed a day later on May 4 when the July 26 Harpswell lobster boat races were cancelled.
That left nine races, but the race committee was still pretty confident: “everyone else is onboard,” said Jon Johansen, president of Maine Lobster Boat Racing. Granted there was some concern for the July 12 race at Stonington but there wasn’t that much anxiety. There should have been for Stonington dropped out at the beginning of June and shortly thereafter Pemaquid’s Merritt Brackett Races, the last race of the season, was cancelled.
“It’s town pressure,” says Johansen; local people telling the local race organizers, “Oh. We shouldn’t have anything going on.” In Stonington some people couldn’t deal with the fact that several lobsters boats often raft up together to serve as a platform for watching the races and that could put a lot of people — not necessarily from their town — close together.
The cancellations will make it harder for some lobster boat racers to qualify for the year-end prizes given out at the Portland race. A lobsterman has to race in at least three races to qualify for the prizes and eliminating four races means some racers will have to steam much further than usual to get in three races.
The Maine Lobster Boat race schedule as of June 16:
• Rockland June 21
• Bass Harbor June 28
• Moosabec Reach July 4
• Friendship July 19
• Winter Harbor Aug. 8
• Long Island Aug. 15
• Portland MS Harborfest Races Aug. 16