TREMONT — More than three dozen lobstermen battled it out in Bass Harbor this past weekend as part of the annual lobster boat races, but perhaps their toughest competitor was race day’s choppy waters.
Conditions were a little rougher than ideal, but nothing the boats couldn’t handle, said Jon Johansen, the president of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association.
“One of the big things we were worried about was the wind,” he said. “The conditions on the course could be a little extreme because of the waves but other than that, it wasn’t anything.”
Thirty-seven boats from across the region showed up, about half of what the race has boasted in the past. Some only had to travel from their mooring in Bernard to the starting line but others came from locales such as Prospect Harbor, Stonington, Beals, Searsport, Milbridge, Corea and Islesford.
Lobstermen lined up just inside Weaver Ledge and crossed the finish line barge across from the Swan’s Island ferry terminal. Fans watched from their own boats, lined up along the road to the terminal or set up spots on the beaches along the shoreline.
Several categories were combined due to the number of lobster boats to avoid any single-boat races.
There were few surprises on the leaderboard and speed records were safely intact — harbored by the chop.
Foolish Pleasure, a perennial favorite in any of the 11 races up and down the Maine coast, won the gas free for all. The Beals vessel, designed for racing only, also took home first place in the open fastest lobster boat race. Dana Beal’s Right Stuff finished first in the diesel free for all. George Lawson’s Miss Beth III took first in the locals-only Bass Harbor race.
There were no apparent major mechanical issues and most races went off without a hitch.
Johansen said that the Boothbay race had 64 boats and Rockland had 44. He suspected Sunday’s low turnout was because of the windy forecast.
This year’s race schedule is back up to full strength after several pulled out last year due to the pandemic. This year also saw the return of festivities back on the pier after the races, which were scrapped in 2020 because of COVID-19. Proceeds from a barbecue and raffle went toward the Silas Rocks Campaign to help out the Harper family, whose son Silas is undergoing treatment for Evans syndrome.