Roy Fagonde brought his Last Design (left) all the way from Beals Island to foggy Bass Harbor to renew his duel with Steven Osgood’s Venom, from Vinalhaven, for supremacy in diesel Class C, though last Sunday’s races didn’t count toward the season points championship. Jon Johansen photo

Bass Harbor races draw healthy fleet despite Sunday morning fog

TREMONT — Like the proverbial postmen undeterred by rain, sleet or snow from delivering the mail, four dozen intrepid skippers found their way to Bass Harbor on Sunday for a morning of lobster boat racing despite dungeon-thick fog.

Some of the racers came no farther than from a mooring off the town wharf in Bernard, but there were boats from as far away as the Midcoast, Searsport, Stonington, Harrington and Beals Island among the fleet that took part in nearly two dozen races on a foggy race course in the outer harbor.

The starting line was just inside Weaver Ledge and a finish line was marked at its western end by Eric Eaton’s Seabridge Marine barge, anchored more or less across from the Swan’s Island ferry terminal.

The COVID-19 pandemic meant there were no shoreside festivities after the racing, and no formal prizes, but Seabridge Marine donated a $50 cash prize to the winning boats to be collected alongside the barge after each race.

While bad weather, early-season woes or other issues kept some of last year’s top competitors away — Wild Wild West, Motivation and Little Girls were all absent for various reasons — there was still plenty of good racing.

Big boats with big horsepower, Eric Beal’s Kimberly Ann (right) came from Milbridge to challenge Matt Shepard’s Alexsa Rose, from Stonington. Both boats are powered by 750-horsepower diesel engines, but from different manufacturers.
Jon Johansen photo

The absence of a radar gun meant no speeds were recorded, but with boats such as Jeremy Beal’s Maria’s Nightmare, Heather Thompson’s Gold Digger and Wayne Rich’s hometown favorite Wide Open coming to the line there was plenty of speed to go around.

To cap the day, Rich’s Wide Open won the title as Bass Harbor’s fastest lobster boat. Just before that, Thompson’s Gold Digger won the fastest lobster boat title, Beal’s Maria’s Nightmare won the diesel free-for-all, just edging Gold Digger, and Randy Durkee’s Black Diamond won the gasoline free-for-all.

The COVID-19 pandemic has scrambled this year’s lobster boat racing calendar, with events in Boothbay Harbor, Pemaquid, Stonington and Harpswell canceled by their organizers. Unless things change for the worse, there will still be plenty of racing.

Before heading to Bass Harbor on Sunday, dozens of lobster boats raced at Rockland on Saturday and racing is scheduled on the traditional July 4 date on Moosabec Reach. Also still on the calendar are the races in Friendship, Long Island and Portland later this summer.

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]

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