2016 lobster boat racing season ends

The Maine lobster boat racing season, after eight races, starting June 18 at Boothbay, drew to a close the weekend of Aug. 20 and 21 at Long Island and the next day at Portland. Just over 50 boats showed up for each race.

The boat that traveled the furthest was Simple Man, making the run from Scituate, Mass., to Long Island in 7-and-a-half hours. If you are steaming that far, it’s always nice to win a race. At Portland, Simple Man, a 36-foot Stanley with a 315-hp Cummins, took first in Class D 236 to 335 hp, 34 feet to 49 feet, clocking in at 21 mph.

The race that many people were looking forward to was between Wild Wild West, a West 28 with a 1,050-hp Isotta, and Whistlin’ Dixie, a Holland 40 with a 1,000-hp Cat. “Whistlin’ Dixie has found some speed, some serious speed,” says Jon Johansen, president of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association.

They squared off in the Diesel Free-For-All at Long Island, but Wild Wild West had to cut his throttle back on account of a wake, which allowed Whistlin’ Dixie to be first across the line. That resulted in the race being run over again but Whistlin’ Dixie opted out. Wild Wild West took the rerun at 49.6 mph.

The next day at Portland, Whistlin’ Dixie bested Wild Wild West by half a boat length in the Diesel Free-for-All at 52.8 mph. The order was reversed in the Fastest Lobster Boat race with Wild Wild West coming out ahead at the slightly slower speed of 46 mph.

The race in Portland is special; it’s the MS Harborfest Lobster Boat Races, which is a fundraiser for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Maine. The exact amount that was raised to combat MS hasn’t been finalized but Johansen figures it could be more than the $6,500 raised in 2015. The money comes from entry fees for the races, prize money given back to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and T-shirt sales.

Besides racing to raise money to help fight MS, another draw to the Portland race was the chance to win 100 gallons of diesel fuel. Global Partners in South Portland again donated 1,600 gallons of diesel fuel to be divided among 16 races. That’s 100 gallons for each race. You didn’t have to win to get the fuel, you just had to finish a race and the winning name was drawn from the contestants in each race.

Looking to next year, it appears that Newport, R.I., wants to be part of the racing scene. At least they’ve contacted Johansen and asked him to come down and help organize a race.

About the author

Samuel Hill

Samuel Hill is associate editor for National Fisherman. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Maine where he got his start in journalism at the campus’ newspaper, the Free Press. He has also written for the Bangor Daily News, the Outline, Motherboard and other publications about technology and culture.

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