Sunday, Aug. 16, was the last day of Maine’s 2020 lobster boat racing season, which started June 4 at Bass Harbor. The season’s six races drew 379 boats. That’s down 450 boats from the previous year. The drop off is mostly due to the coronavirus that caused five races to be cancelled.
Portland’s races started at 10 am and when the day was over 47 boats had crossed the finish line. The boat that traveled the farthest for Sunday’s races was the Miss Mariena, a Wayne Beal 32 with a 500-hp Cummins, that traveled from Jonesport, a five- or six-hour steam.
It didn’t turn out so bad for the Miss Mariena. She won her race in Diesel Class G (436 to 550 hp, 36 feet and over) at 45 mph and took second in both the Diesel Free For All and Fastest Lobster Boat Race. In both cases Miss Mariena was beaten by the fastest boat of the day, Blue Eyed Girl, a Morgan Bay 38 with a 900-hp Scania, that hit 49 mph.
A couple of the season’s crowd pleasers weren’t able to come because their owners had to go hauling on Monday. That included the fastest boat on this year’s racing circuit, Cameron Crawford’s Wild Wild West, a West 28 with 1,050-hp Isotta Fraschini, which hit 63 mph at the Winter Harbor races and Heather Thompson’s Gold Digger, a Wayne Beal 36 with a 675-hp Scania, which is a force in Diesel Class J 551 to 700 hp, 36 feet and over. (Crawford does not use Wild Wild West for fishing, but Thompson does lobster with Gold Digger.)
Lobster boats weren’t the only racers on Sunday. As usual, four or five Portland-based tugboats started the day off with their own “high-speed” display. Though high speed for the tugboats is about 15 miles an hour. What is notable is not the speed but the nearly 6-foot wall of water a tug can push ahead of itself.
The Portland races are always a money raiser for important causes. This year it was to contribute to a scholarship fund that’s given out at the Maine Fishermen’s Forum in March. Jon Johansen president of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association figures at least $1,500 was raised. It came from the $25 entry fee and the $50 that winners of races were awarded but most told the race committee “keep it!”
A prize available for anyone that entered a race was a round-trip ticket for two from Portland to Florida on Elite Airways. It was given out for each race. If you drew the ticket, you won.