The Friendship, Maine, lobster boat races held on July 22 marked the half waypoint for the state’s 2018 racing season. For the first six races, starting at Boothbay Harbor on June 16 through the Friendship races, 415 boats came to the starting line. Stonington was the harbor with the most racers with 106 boats.
A race that only Stonington has is the John’s Bay Boat Co. race in recognition of the several wood lobster boats built by John’s Bay Boat Co. that fish out of Stonington. Five boats went to the line. First across the finish line was the newest from John’s Bay Boats, Nathan Jones' 47-foot Sailor’s Way with a 1,000-hp Caterpillar C18 that was launched this past November. She hit 28.2 mph.
One of the top competitors on this year’s racing circuit has been Heather Thompson’s Gold Digger, a Wayne Beal 36 with a 675-hp Scania. In what many considered a race to watch at Stonington was the Class J (551 to 700 hp, 36 feet to 39 feet 11 inches) match up between Gold Digger, which has won all its races this season, and Uncle’s UFO, a Northern Bay 35 with a 700-hp Volvo that stood a good chance of ending Gold Digger’s string of victories. Adding to the excitement was the rumored this would be the last race for Uncle’s UFO.
At the start nine boats were lined up but Gold Digger quickly blew out of the middle of the pack and took the lead. However Uncle’s UFO was coming up the left side of the racecourse and closing fast. Gold Digger won but not by much, says Jon Johansen, president of Maine Lobster Boat Racing. Gold Digger was clocked at 40 mph and Uncle’s UFO at 39.4 mph. Heather Thompson and Gold Digger’s competition have four more races to see if they can end this unbeaten streak. The next race is July 29 at Harpswell.