The Aug. 21 race in Portland, Maine, was the last of Maine’s 2022 lobster boat racing season, after 573 boats came out for 11 events starting with June 18 at Boothbay Harbor.
That number “is down about 70 boats” from the previous year, said Jon Johansen, president of Maine Lobster Boat Association.
Four races were in August, beginning with Winter Harbor and Pemaquid’s Merritt Bracket races on the weekend of Aug. 13-14, followed by two more races the next weekend at Long Island and Portland on Aug. 20-21. The Pemaquid races are officially titled the Merritt Bracket races in honor of a mechanic who, said Johansen, “could keep all the boats going.”
Both Winter Harbor and Pemaquid had good turnouts, Johnson said, with 100 boats arriving at Winter Harbor and 69 racing at Pemaquid. With that many boats at Winter Harbor, several races had six or more boats.
When 21 boats signed up for the Diesel Class N race (40 feet and over, 751 hp and over) it was divided into two heats. Ten boats in one heat and 11 in the second heat. The seven fastest were then matched up in a finals race, won by Todd Pinkham’s Terrie J., a South Shore 42 with a 750-hp FPT, at 41 mph.
The biggest surprise was Jeremy Beal’s Maria’s Nightmare II, a Wayne Beal 32 with a 1,000-hp Isotta, that set the diesel speed record of 68.3 mph on July 2 at Moosabec Reach. At Winter Harbor, Maria’s Nightmare II was the only boat in her class race (Diesel Class L, 901 hp and over, 28 feet and over) and hit 56 mph.
At that point she was the fastest boat at Winter Harbor, but in the Fastest Lobster Boat race, the last race of the day, Maria’s Nightmare II finished 5th. The issue was faulty pistons; she was smoking bad enough that Beal said of his boat, “now you can call the boat old smoky.”
A very competitive matchup was between Jeff Eaton’s La Bella Vita and David Myrick’s Janice Elaine. Both are Northern Bay 38s with 815 hp FPTs. Janice Elaine took took Diesel Class K (701 to 900 hp, 28 feet and over) – no speed was given – and the Diesel Free For All at 45 mph, but La Bella Vita came back for the last race of the day, the Fastest Lobster Boat race, and took it at 46 mph.
La Bella Vita was the only boat racing in the Winter Harbor races to make the 100-mile trip the following day to race at Pemaquid. There LaBella Vita ran up against Andrew Taylor’s Blue Eyed Girl, a Morgan Bay 38 with a 900-hp Scania, and came in second to Blue Eyed Girl in three races. The fastest race at Winter Harbor was the Fastest Lobster Boat Afloat that Blue Eyed Girl won at 49 mph.
Probably one of the more unusual engine choice for a lobster boat was in Chip Johnson’s Five Stars. That’s a Calvin 42 powered with a 750-hp Renault Mac that came out of a French tank. Five Stars ran in the 17th race of the day (Diesels 801-hp and over, 40 feet and over) and its tank engine put Five Stars first over the finish line at 36 mph but she fell to third behind Andrew Taylor’s Blue Eyed Girl and La Bella Vita in the Fastest Lobster Boat Afloat race. Andrew Taylor’s Blue Eyed Girl won at 49 mph.
The turnout for the last weekend of the season was about normal with 45 boats arriving at Long Island and 41 boats to Portland. The fastest boat on both days was Downeast Nightmare, a Mussel Ridge 28 with a 1,000-hp Chevy, winning both the Gasoline Free-for-All and the Fastest Lobster Boat races.
Downeast Nightmare’s fastest time was 48.4 mph at Long Island. That speed was despite the fact that the Long Island course had 1 to 2-foot chop running through it, and “if it’s wavy, that boat gets squirrely. It gets a little airborne, ” said Johansen.
A close race at Portland was in Class M(B), (40 feet and over, 501 to 750 hp) between Eric Beal’s Kimberly Ann, a 42 Calvin with a 750-hp FPT, and Matt Shephard’s Alexsa Rose, a Morgan Bay 43 with a 750-hp John Deere.
Kimberly Ann won that one 33.7 mph with Alexsa Rose just behind at 33 mph. Kimberly Ann came in third in the Diesel Free for All and third in the Fastest Lobster Boat races, behind Downeast Nightmare, which hit 44 mph.
That’s it for Maine’s 2022 racing season.