Memorial Day weekend is camp opening for my family in Maine. (Camp being the northern New England euphemism for “cabin.”) We enjoyed the beach, the frigid water and grilling in the company of black flies and mosquitos. But we also cranked up the wood stove when evening temperatures dipped down into the 40s.
That’s spring in Maine (summer, too, to be fair). But Memorial Day weekend means we’re getting close to the mid-June kickoff for the Lobster Boat Racing circuit, which starts with back-to-back race days in Boothbay Harbor and Rockland on June 17 and 18. When lobster boats hit the raceways, we know summer has officially begun.
Last year, Cameron Crawford’s Wild, Wild West set a diesel speed record at Bass Harbor (that race is on June 25 this year). The 28-footer with a 1,050-hp Isotta Fraschini for power, was caught on the radar gun at 51.8 mph on her first race, though Crawford evidently held back on the throttle as a couple of boats had run across the race course, causing large wakes, said Jon Johansen, president of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association.
In the Fastest Lobster Boat Race — the last race of the day — the Wild, Wild West hit 60.6 mph, breaking the 58.9-mph record, set in Portland in 2010 by Alfred Osgood’s Starlight Express with a 900-hp Mack.
“When he came flying by, you knew he was moving,” said Johansen.
This year, 10 race dates along the coast of Maine from Jonesport (Moosabec Reach) to Portland offer plenty of opportunities to write new racing lore. Keep track of the season online at the Facebook page for Fans of Maine Lobster Boat Racing, and stay tuned here for updates as the season gets under way.