Stephen Rappaport

No New Records, But Plenty of Excitement at Winter Harbor Lobster Boat Races

Stephen Rappaport
Rocky Alley and his Beals Island-based Lorna R squared off against Bass Harbor’s Wayne Rich and Rich Returns in the wooden boat race.

WINTER HARBOR — Not too many fishermen would ever think of a lobster dealer as a paragon of virtue, but Chris Byers must be living right.

Byers buys and wholesales lobsters and shellfish in Winter Harbor through his company DC Air and for the past few years has organized the Winter Harbor Lobster Boat Races — an event often challenged by the foggy, windy weather around Schoodic Point.

Last Saturday, some 50 boats gathered for this year’s edition of the annual event and the weather could not have been better for racing, or race watching. With neither Foolish Pleasure nor Starlight Express on hand, neither the gas nor diesel speed record was challenged. There were still plenty of races, and enough speed, to make for a satisfying morning on the water.

Until last weekend, through seven events along the coast from Harpswell to Moosabec Reach, nobody had raced in Diesel Class K for boats 28 feet and over with engines between 701 and 900 horsepower. On Saturday, three Class K boats started and generated one of the closest, and fastest, races the day. With Byers at the helm of the starter’s boat keeping them more or less in order, Wild Wild West, Motivation and Ocean Breeze roared up the course toward the finish line off Frazer Point. Spewing thick black smoke from the exhaust of its highly tuned engine, James West’s Wild Wild West crossed the finish line first, clocking 45.6 mph, less than a boat length ahead of Carroll Staples’s 45.2-mph Motivation.

The two paired off again in the day’s last event, the Fastest Lobster Boat Race, together with Rocky Alley’s gas-powered Lorna R and Tom Clemons’ spanking new N-class diesel 4 Girls, a 1,000-horsepower Caterpillar-powered Wesmac 46 built in Surry that replaced the 900-horsepower Mack-driven Duffy 37 now owned by Staples. This time, their race was even closer.

Motivation jumped to a quick lead coming off the starting line. Then West put the power to his custom-built 28-footer.

Trailing a thick, black cloud of diesel smoke, Wild Wild West caught its rival and nipped in front to finish first by about a coat of paint. As the fastest boat of the day, the winner clocked 46.7 mph. Motivation clocked in at 46.6 mph.


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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]