Team Holland’s RED BARON goes topless at Searsport in 2000.

By Sheila Dassatt

       Ok, we all know how things are going in our country right now.  I’m not going to go over things that we are already aware of, so I’d like to lighten things up a little with one of our family’s lobster boat racing stories.  We all love a little story from the past, for those that remember and the generation that wasn’t there, but love to hear the stories of the “Ole Heyday.”  Let’s do it, in hopes that it can take your mind off of things for a few minutes.

        I remember it well.  It was the last race for the season, the year was 2000 in Searsport, Maine.  This was the year that experimentation with air flow was in play.  So Team Holland decided to remove the shelter house on the Red Baron.  You see, my brother, Glenn is also a designer as well as boat racer and builder, so displacement and air flow was always in his mind (not to mention cubic horsepower). 

        It was a beautiful day in Searsport and the whole gang was there.  At that time, we had the title of “Team Holland” because everyone in the family had a part to play, right down to who was making the sandwiches.  There was a lot of angst, as to whether the boat was “legal according to the rules.”  According to the Class that we were in, Red Baron was legal. 

        Mike and I had our older wooden classic boat there, Anna Marie, who was classified as a 32’ Osmond, built in 1967.  She had a 6 cylinder Ford in her at the time and was used primarily for lobster fishing and “chow boat” during the races.  When it was the Baron’s turn to race, everyone piled onto Anna Marie, right down to putting her scuppers under due to all of the extra weight!  We also entered her into the Wooden Boat Class, mostly for exhibition to show the beauty of the classic wooden boats.

        The Red Baron won her race for the class that she was in that day.  That was all fine and dandy, but she took second place in the Gas Free For All.  She was supporting a Big Chief Motor, or a Big Blower motor that was over 600 cubic inches.  So of course, we were all looking for the title of the Fastest Boat of the Day.  Hmmm, this was going to be a bit of a challenge, considering the dynamics of the entire boat, with the shelter top off and calling her “topless.”  With this being the last race of the season, we opted to “give her all that we could.”  Was there enough time to switch the pulley system around, adding more horsepower?  This was going to take great team effort on the part of the entire Team!  We’ll give it our best!

        Mike, Glenn and Ed decided to do the mechanics, with Dad looking on, but the time for the Wooden Boat race was up, so Mike worked with Glenn and his son Ed, putting Dad running the Anna Marie for the race.  I remember Mike looking up and seeing his antenna going by, with Dad taking her.  He had two young ladies on his stern that were part of the team as well.  So the Wooden Boat Race was underway……with Dad at the helm, which most thought it was Mike.  As the race was going on, the humor was the announcer, Brian Robbins asked if the Anna Marie was in the race, as she was so slow……the girls were pretending to be paddling, to help her along.  It was actually quite comical!  Dad and the girls finished the race, but was dead last, by half the course. 

        By that time, the pulleys had been switched and also put a new battery in, during that time.  And people thought we were always such a slow and moderate bunch!  This was all done in time for the last race of the day.  When they were headed up to the starting line, Dad was just finishing the Wooden Boat race.  Glenn ran the Baron with Mike in the stern, moving on to finish the race, taking First Place, thus making her the Fastest Boat of the Day!  Now I’ll say that was all Team Work! 

        This story was one that was actually captured on video by Virginia Thorndike, which made the whole story priceless.  The best part was the rules were not broken, with Virginia’s video as our proof.  Gawd, that was a fun day, and we still chuckle when we think about it!

        Editor’s Note: I certainly remember this race, which was the final race of 2000. I actually remember in the spring unloading the windshield when it came down from Wayne Canning’s shop where it was laid up. Manfred Durkee’s FRICKA was there racing in Gasoline Class D. She won her class with a speed of 47 mph. In Gasoline Class E there were three boats on the line: RED BARON, Steve Johnson’s KATHLEEN II [Crowley 36; 1,295-hp 12-cylinder Rolls Royce/Packard] and James West’s WILD WILD WEST [West 28; 502 Chevrolet]. This was going to be one of the exciting races of the day and the finish was close with the RED BARON crossing the line with a speed of 56.4 mph, followed by KATHLEEN II, 54.8 mph and WILD WILD WEST did not finish and was out for the day with an engine issue. The only diesel boat that could be in the photograph was Andy Gove’s UNCLE’S UFO and he was clocked at 49.6 in Diesel Class K. In the Gasoline Free-for-All the crowd watched as KATHLEEN II edged RED BARON with a speed of 55 mph. As Sheila says that is when Glenn decided to change the pulleys, which was a one-time deal giving him an additional 100 hp. There were three races before they needed to be on the line for the last race of the day, Fastest Lobster Boat. On the line besides KATHLEEN II and RED BARON, was UNCLE’S UFO, FRICKA and KELIN. Everyone know that if they all held together it was going to be a great finish and it was. Coming over first was RED BARON, 57.8 mph, followed by KATHLEEN II and then UNCLE’S UFO. This battle goes down as one of the best in the history of lobster boat racing!