Billy Bob Faulkingham’s 51 leads this pack on Moosabec Reach but finished third overall in the race for boats 40 feet and over with diesel engines of between 501 and 750 horsepower. The race was won by Eric Beal’s Kimberly Ann. Jon Johansen photos

Races draw big fleets to Stonington and Moosabec Reach

STONINGTON — The summer lobster boat racing season is always compressed, with 10 races in harbors from Jonesport to Portland packed into just 10 weeks at the height of fishing season.

It’s rare, though, that two races happen less than a week apart.

This year, the fog that is as much a part of summer in Maine as the races themselves forced the fleet to gather twice in six days — on July 4 on Moosabec Reach and July 9 at Stonington — though that wasn’t the original plan.

The Moosabec Reach races have traditionally run on July 4 in conjunction with Jonesport’s holiday festivities, but this year the organizers decided to hold the event on Saturday, July 1. Whether it was gremlins yearning for past practice or merely a meteorological phenomenon, thick fog obscured the Reach both Saturday and Sunday mornings and the race committee was forced to reschedule for July 4.

The fluid schedule didn’t seem to keep too many boats away. Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association President Jon Johansen had 80 working boats signed up to run.

Uncle’s U.F.O. has been burning up the race course since she was launched 20 years ago and was still the fastest boat in her class at the Stonington Lobster Boat Races on Sunday.

Weather was no problem on Sunday when the racers gathered in Stonington to duke it out on Deer Island Thorofare. By the time registration on the municipal fish pier was done, 109 boats had signed up to race on a clear summer day with only a light sea breeze from the southwest ruffling the water.

As always, the fleet was well spread out both in boat size as well as racers’ ages. The youngest skipper of the day, according to Johansen, was 8-year-old Addi Tripp, who ran the outboard-powered Rock Star in the first race of the morning. Later in the day, Andy Gove, 87 and still racing hard, skippered his Northern Bay 36 Uncle’s U.F.O. to victory in the Diesel Class J Race.

Gove has been winning lobster boat races with regularity since he first launched Uncle’s U.F.O. 20 years ago with a 900-horsepower Mack under the platform. For a long time, the boat held the diesel lobster boat speed record.

Two years ago he replaced the Mack — pretty much worn out from 18 years of Gove’s year-round lobster fishing — with a 700-horsepower Volvo. Now racing in a slightly lower horsepower class, Uncle’s U.F.O. is still a winner when Gove brings her out to race.

Gove held the diesel speed record for several years, often running well above 50 miles per hour, until seven years ago when the Vinalhaven-based Starlight Express set a new record of 58.9 miles per hour. That record stood until last year, when Cameron Crawford pushed his 1,050 horsepower Wild Wild West to a blistering 60.4 miles per hour record.

Shawn Alley’s Little Girls (right) came all the way from Jonesport to Stonington and edged out Wild Wild West in the race to determine the fastest lobster boat afloat.

Wild Wild West set no records on Sunday and, for a change, didn’t win every race it entered. The boat did win in its class race, edging out Miss Karlee and Motivation, but in the final race of the day, the Fastest Lobster Boat Race, Shawn Alley’s gasoline-powered Little Girls got the jump on Wild Wild West at the starting line and Crawford could never quite make up the difference before the finish line off Green Head. Little Girls also won Gasoline Class D and wooden boat Class A races and the Gasoline Free-for-All. His top speed for the day was clocked at 54.5 miles per hour on the radar gun.

In the Jimmy Stevens Cup race, for the fastest working lobster boat afloat, Ed Shirley’s 1,000-horsepower Mitchell Cove 32 Miss Karlee, took home the silver, edging out Andrew Taylor’s newly launched 900-horsepower Morgan Bay 38 Blue Eyed Girl, winner of the diesel Class K race and third in diesel free-for-all.

After a well-deserved two-week break, the racing fleet will head for Friendship on the Midcoast and race on Sunday, July 23, before returning Downeast to Winter Harbor on Saturday, Aug. 12.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]
Stephen Rappaport

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