Seven races completed and 281 boats have come to the line in the 2022 Maine Lobster Boat Racing Season, from skiffs with 30-hp outboards to high-powered lobster boats, such as Bounty Hunter IV, a Calvin 44 with a 1,400-hp MAN.
Early on in the racing season, the diesel record was broken not once but twice, first on June 26 at Bass Harbor and then, again, a week later at Moosabec Reach. At Bass Harbor it was in the much-anticipated race of the day, Class L (901 hp and over, 28 feet and over) between Maria’s Nightmare II (Wayne Beal 32,1,000-hp Isotta) and Wild Wild West (West 28, 1050-hp Isotta). Normally Wild Wild West races in Class O (Non-working boats, any length, any horsepower) but on that day they agreed to race each other.
At the start, Maria’s Nightmare II was in the lead but Wild Wild West was closing. When the two boats crossed the finish line, a mile down the course, they were bow to bow at 62 mph and that broke the diesel speed record. Both boats were given the win for their class and the record.
Six days later, on July 2, 82 boats arrived for the Moosabec Reach races, the biggest turnout this year. Wild Wild West didn’t show up, leaving the field to Maria’s Nightmare II, which promptly set a new record at 68.3 mph.
Lobstermen love to race, be it coming in from the fishing grounds or running down the racecourse, even when burdened with physical ailments. Take the case of Matt Shepard in Alexsa Rose (Morgan Bay 43, 750-hp John Deere).
At the Friendship races on July 17, Shepard was racing Alexsa Rose while wearing a full neck brace because he was recently in an auto accident and broke his neck, said Maine Lobster Boat Association’s president Jon Johansen.
Shepard’s best run that day was second in the Fastest Lobster Boat race, hitting 31 mph. That wasn’t near enough to keep up with Andrew Taylor’s Blue Eyed Girl (Morgan Bay 38 with a 900-hp Scania), which was clocked at 45.4 mph. Blue Eyed Girl also won the Diesel Free For All at 49.6 mph, making Blue Eyed Girl the fastest boat of the day at Friendship. Second place went to Jeff Eaton’s La Bella Vita (Northern Bay 38, 815 FPT).
At Harpswell, where 47 boats came to race on July 24, Blue Eyed Girl continued her winning ways, taking the Diesel Free-for-all at 42.3 mph and the Fastest Lobster Boat Race at 43.2 mph, though Johansen figures Blue Eyed Girl was actually closer to 50 mph. The slower recorded speed he thinks was due to “the angle of the radar gun.”
You didn’t have to be in one of the fastest lobster boats of the day to put on a good show. A race that got a lot of attention was Class J (551 to 700 hp, 36 feet to 39 feet 11 inches), which pitted Heather Thompson’s Gold Digger (Wayne Beal 36, 675-hp Scania) against Carl Anderson’s Danica Haley (Calvin 36, 675-hp Scania) and Sean Clemons Mean Kathleen (Wayne Beal 36, 700-hp Scania).
It was close between Gold Digger and Danica Haley but Gold Digger won at 39.6 mph, with Mean Kathleen in third place.
Four more races remain in Maine’s 2022 racing season: August 13 at Winter Harbor, August 14 at Pemaquid, August 20 at Long Island, and August 21 at Portland.