Ryan Lemieux’s new boat OBSESSION [Young Brothers 40; 1,000-hp Caterpillar] leading Tom Clemons’ FOUR LADIES up the course in Diesel Class N at Boothbay.

BOOTHBAY – There were only brief rumblings around the coast this winter and spring as to new boats, repowers and just who would come out for another year of lobster boat racing. The Boothbay Harbor races, being the first of the year, usually answers some of those questions, but also it is early in the season and some boats are not ready yet. However, the real question was the weather as rain was forecast for both days and that could mean a low turnout.

        Friday afternoon (16 June) racers gathered at Brown’s wharf on the east side of the harbor. By early evening there were a dozen boats on the dock and so far, the weather was holding off. Would the meteorologist be right that the rain would move in that night and continue until Sunday AM, unfortunately this time he was correct.

        Early morning brought light showers and sign-ups were steady and, in the end, there were 38 boats registered to race. This meant there were a number of classes with no entrants (Gasoline Class A (Four and Six Cylinder, 24 feet and over), B (V8, Up to 383 cid, 24 feet and over), D (376 cid and over, 24 feet and over (Non-working racer), E (Over 525 cid, 28 feet and over, Turbos/superchargers, Alcohol and Nitrous), Diesel A (Up to 235 hp, 24 to 31 feet 11 inches), B (Up to 235 hp, 32 feet to 39 feet 11 inches), G (436 to 550 hp, 28 to 35 feet 11 inches), O (Non-working boats, any length, any horsepower) and Wooden Boat A (Any hp., up to 35 feet 11 inches)) and to speed things along we would combine some of the races to make it more interesting.

        The rain at the start was still light, when the two boats in Work Boat Class A (Skiffs 16 feet and under, Outboard up to 30 hp, operators up to 16 years old) headed up the course. Will Clifford’s 10-foot inflatable took the top spot followed by Annabelle Kimball in NUGGET [Holland 14; 30-hp Honda]. NUGGET headed back down to compete in Work Boat Class B (Inboard, Outboard or Outdrive, 31 to 90 hp), this time with Cameron Murphy at the helm and since there was just one boat Dave Johnston’s CASCO MISS [Eastern 22, 250-hp Honda] in Class C (Inboard, Outboard or Outdrive, 90 hp and over) they were run together. There were six boats on the line in Class B and when the flag dropped Andy Correa [Boston Whaler 17; 70-hp Evinrude] jumped into the lead and never looked back. Back a couple of boat lengths was Mason Vintinner’s SCREAM TIME [Corson 16; 90-hp Mercury], followed by Jacob Noyes’ ZIPPIN’ TOO [Corson 15; 90-hp Nissan].

        In the Fastest Working Lobster Boat – Boothbay the easy winner was Andrew Taylor’s BLUE EYED GIRL [Morgan Bay 38, 900-hp Scania]. Second went to John Albaum’s BELUGA followed by Caleb Knapp’s EVANGELINE [38’ J. Ervin Jones; 375-hp Caterpillar].

        The only boat in the gasoline classes was Jim Koehling’s BROWN EYED GIRL [Duffy 26; 454-hp Chevrolet] in Class C (V8, 376 to 525 cid, 24 feet and over).

        There was no one in the first two Diesel Classes and Classes C (236 to 335 hp, 24 to 33 feet 11 inches) and D (236 to 335 hp, 34 feet to 39 feet 11 inches) were combined. The battle was between the top boat in each class and the first over the line was Roy Fagonde’s LAST DESIGN [E. Libby, Jr., 31; 300-hp Caterpillar], the winner of Class C, and Mark Davis’ WHISKEY GIRL II, winner of Class D. Right behind the two front runners was Adam Kimball’s MISS ATTITUDE [Holland 32; 265-hp John Deere] for second in Class C. Diesel Class E (336 to 435 hp, 24 to 33 feet 11 inches) and F (336 to 435 hp, 34 feet to 39 feet 11 inches) were combined at that made for a great race between Randy Durkee’s AUDREY MAY [Holland 32; 425-hp Cummins] in Class E and Winfred Alley’s FAITH MELLE [Libby 34; 425-hp Cummins] in Diesel Class F. As the two came up the course, but AUDREY MAY just did not have enough to get by and finished just behind FAITH MELLE, both winning their respective classes. Second in Class E went to Jake Dugas’ GUILTY PLEASURE [Mitchell Cove 32; 380-hp Cummins]. Diesel classes H (436 to 550 hp, 36 feet to 39 feet 11 inches) and I (551 to 700 hp, 28 to 35 feet 11 inches) were combined and Gary Genthner’s LIL’ LISA MARIE [Mussel Ridge 28; 600-hp FPT], Class I, jumped right into the lead and never looked back. Chris Smith’s MISTY [Crowley Beal 33; 650 hp Scania] had made a couple of changes, but he just did not have enough to get by crossing second. Willie Coombs’ MELYNDA M. [Wayne Beal 36; 500-hp FPT], in Class H, did make a valiant effort to stay with them, but crossed just a couple of boat lengths back. Second in Class H went to TUNA WISHING [West Bay 37; 450-hp Cummins], owned by Jason West of Steuben. Travis Otis’ FIRST TEAM [Northern Bay 36; 410-hp Sisu 645] from Searsport slowed about three-fourths of the way down the course with an overheated engine and needed to be towed off the course. Classes J (551 to 700 hp, 36 feet to 39 feet 11 inches) and K (701 to 900 hp, 28 feet to 39 feet 11 inches) were combined and the boat to beat was BLUE EYED GIRL and there was a threat from Jeff Eaton’s LA BELLA VITA [Northern Bay 38; 815-hp FPT] from Stonington. These came off the line together, but as they made their way to the finish BLUE EYED GIRL inched into the lead and won by a boat length. Next over was Sean Clemons’ MEAN KATHLEEN [Wayne Beal 36; 700-hp Scania] of Harpswell, which took first in Diesel Class J. He was followed by Zach Donnell’s REGENCY [Calvin Beal 38; 800-hp Scania], all the way from Perkins Cove in Ogunquit, who captured third in Diesel Class K. The boat to beat this day was going to be Jeremy Beal’s MARIA’S NIGHTMARE II [Wayne Beal 32; 1,000-hp Isotta] from Jonesport. She was entered in Class L (901 hp and over, 28 feet to 39 feet 11 inches) and ran down the course by herself and was clocked at 48.3 mph. However, while getting his prize Jeremy said that he hit the throttle at the end of the course and was doing 61 mph on his GPS when he crossed the line. Classes M(A) (40 feet and over, up to 500 hp) and M(B) (40 feet and over, 501 to 750 hp) were combined. With the dropped of the flag on the start boat it looked like another tight race between Matt Shepard’s ALEXSA ROSE [Morgan Bay 43; 750-hp John Deere] of Stonington and Eric Beal’s KIMBERLY ANN [Calvin Beal 42; 750-hp FPT] from Milbridge in Class M(B). The win went to KIMBERLY ANN followed by ALEXSA ROSE in second a boat length back. Several boat length behind them came the leaders in Class M(A). Justin Papkee’s PULL ‘N PRAY [Wayne Beal 40; 500-hp Hyundai] of Long Island did all she could to get by Alan Knowlton’s SEA URCHIN [Young Brothers 45, 425-hp John Deere], of South Thomaston, but just did not have enough and they finished one-two. Five boats were on the line for Class N (40 feet and over, 751 hp and over) and Ryan Lemeiux’s new boat OBSESSION [Young Brothers 40; 1,000-hp Caterpillar] from Cutler, could make this an interesting race. The winner of this class last year was Dana Beal’s NATALIE E. [Libby 41; 1,000-hp FPT], but would he be able to defend that title? With the drop of the flag, you could not see who had the lead. As they made their way up the course it was obvious that it was a race between NATALIE E. and OBSESSION and as they neared the finish NATALIE E. had the lead and got the win with OBSESSION second. Third went to Chip Johnson’s FIVE STARS [Calvin Beal 42; 750-hp Renault-Mack] from Harpswell.

        There was only one boat entered in the Wooden Boat races, Caleb Knapp’s EVANGELINE [38’ J. Ervin Jones; 375-hp Caterpillar] of Boothbay and he was in Class B (Any hp., 36 feet and over). He came down with the racers in Class N to win this class.

        There was just one boat in the Gasoline Free-for-All, BROWN EYED GIRL so she was sent down with the eight boats in the Diesel Free-for-All. There was no surprise as MARIA’S NIGHTMARE II came streaking up the course, but there was when she slowed allowing the two behind to catch up and get a boat length on her. Jeremy Beal then hit her throttle again and off he went coming up between the two and led them to the finish. Second went to BLUE EYED GIRL and third was LA BELLA VITA.

        Now the rain was coming down harder, but we were onto the final race of the day, Fastest Lobster Boat. Announcer Clive Farrin kept asking who was going to race, but only two boats were on the line. One was LA BELLA VITA and the other was FIRST TEAM who wanted to finish his race in Class H. With no other taker, the flag was dropped and LA BELLA VITA led the way to the finish and the end was at hand.

        Those of us on the prize float sitting on the finish line were wet and glad to get ashore and dry out. As we made our way to shore many of the competitors headed out of the harbor to Rockland for the next day’s races.

* * * * *

ROCKLAND – The rain subsided as dawn broke Sunday. It was still overcast and blowing a nice stiff breeze out of the nor’west. A look across Penobscot Bay and it was nasty out there and the question was how many would brave getting thrashed around getting to the races?

        Sixteen boats had signed up at Boothbay for the Rockland Races and another 17 signed up that morning for a total of 33 competitors. Again, there were classes with no entrants or just a boat or two so we did some combining. There were no entrants in Work Boat Class C; Gasoline Classes B, D and E; Diesel Classes A, B, J and O; and Wooden Boat A.

        There are three Work Boat classes and in Class A Annabelle Kimball skippered NUGGET to an easy win as she was the only entrant. In Class B, two boats were on the line and SCREAM TIME showed NUGGET (Cameron Murphy at the helm) the way to the finish line.

        With just one boat in Gasoline Class A, CINDY JEN [34’ Clinton Beal, 1964; 292 Chevrolet], skippered by Alonzo Alley and one in Class C Lindsay Durkee of Islesboro BLACK DIAMOND [Holland 32, 454 Chevrolet] they ran up together each winning their respective classes.

        Next up was the Diesel Classes and with no one in A and B and two boats in C and one in D they were combined. MISS ATTITUDE was in a rematch with LAST DESIGN and tried to get by her this day, but just could not as they finished one-two. RICH ENDEAVOR from Bass Harbor got the win in Diesel Class D. The first real close race of the day came in Class E between AUDREY MAY from Islesboro and Danny Eaton’s DESTINY [Crowley 28; 420-hp Yanmar] from Stonington. As they neared the finish AUDREY MAY gained separation and took the win with DESTINY second GUILTY PLEASURE from Yarmouth third. Classes F and G were combined and it was going to be a good battle between FAITH MELLE and David Osgood’s SPLIT SECOND [Crowley Beal 33; 550-hp D-8 Volvo] from Vinalhaven, the only entrant in Class G. FAITH MELLE jumped right into the lead and kept it right the finish line. The three boats in Class H were combined with the one entrant in Class I. Again, it was a rematch of the day before between MELYNDA M. and LIL’ LISA MARIE with the same results: LIL’ LISA MARIE crossing first. However, they each won their respective classes. Second in Class H went to Broddie Eaton’s FALLEN ANGEL [Calvin Beal 36; 530-hp FPT] followed by FIRST TEAM. Just before the start of the next race I got a late sign in as Nick Wiberg came by the committee boat on the finish line and entered Class K with WITCHING HOUR [Northern Bay 36, formerly UNCLE’S UFO]. He was going to face off against LA BELLA VITA and as they came up the course it was close, but LA BELLA VITA inched her way into the lead and won by a boat length. Third went to Steven Osgood’s SHOOTING STAR [Northern Bay 36; 750-hp John Deere] from Vinalhaven. There had been a lot of talk about a Libby 34, which someone had put a 1,000-hp Isotta in. Well, she made her first appearance at Rockland. She is owned by Cooper Nelson of Searsmont and was pitted against MARIA’S NIGHTMARE II, the top diesel boat. As they came up the course it looked close until Jeremy on MARIA’S NIGHTMARE II added more throttle and sped across the finish line with the win in Class L. In a rematch of the day before, ALEXSA ROSE and KIMBERLY ANN came up the course with the win going to KIMBERLY ANN and ALEXSA ROSE second Class M (B). M (A) was combined with M(B) and the win went to SEA URCHIN followed by PULL ‘N PRAY. In Class N another rematch took place between NATALIE E. and OBSESSION. It seemed to be a closer race with less than a boat length between them and at the line NATALIE E. had won again, but OBSESSION was gaining.

        There was just one boat on the line for the Gasoline Free-for-All, BLACK DIAMOND.

        Five boats were on the line for the Diesel Free-for-All and the favourite was MARIA’S NIGHTMARE II and she did not disappoint. The real battle was again LA BELLA VITA, and LESS THAN KNOT and WITCHING HOUR, which finished in this order all within a boat length.

        In Wooden Boat B, Vance Bunker of Owl’s Head came out with his SARI ANN [42’Johns Bay Boat; 660-hp Volvo] and defeated his former boat SARI ANN I [40’ Johns Bay Boat, 375-hp Caterpillar], now owned by Jon and Ann Johansen of Winterport, and skippered by Alonzo Alley.

        For the final race of the day, Fastest Lobster Boat three boats were on the line and it was no surprise that the winner was MARIA’S NIGHTMARE II. LA BELLA VITA and WITCHING HOUR was in another real close race, stems just feet apart, but the judges agreed that second went to LA BELLA VITA with WITCHING HOUR third.

        The wind had subsided, but there was still a rather good sea running out on Penobscot Bay as the boats headed home. The next race will be at Bass Harbor on 25 June, another great venue to be race.