BOOTHBAY HARBOR, Maine — As Maine as lobster rolls, blueberries and Allen’s Coffee Flavored Brandy, the 2019 lobster boat racing season began Saturday in Boothbay Harbor.
Under sunny skies and temperatures in the high 60s, sailboats, motor boats and even a sardine carrier tied up in the harbor by 10 a.m. to watch working and recreational lobster boats rev their engines and skim across the sea’s surface in a series of heats to prove whose engine was most powerful.
Dozens of viewers watched from a cluster of boats from Long Island, Peaks Island and Cape Elizabeth tied up throughout the day.
In recent years, the races have allowed boats of different types to compete in the same category in order to limit the race time to just several hours.
“You can have as many people on the boat as you want, but they all have to have life jackets,” announcer Clive Farrin said over the marine radio. “I hope everybody abides by it.”
Categories ranged from work boats under 24 feet to gas-powered work boats 24 feet and longer, diesel-powered work boats 24 feet and over and wooden boat races.
Joel Hallinan, a longtime fisherman from Boothbay Harbor, predicted Andrew Taylor’s Blue Eyed Girl would take the top prize in the fastest diesel category.
Taylor took the prize in several categories, including working boats from the Boothbay region category, while Gold Digger, from Stonington took another.
The gas “free for all” race was won by Little Girl, and just before 1 p.m., Motivation won first prize in the diesel “free for all.” The last race, fastest working lobster boat, was also won by Little Girl.
The 2019 season is dedicated to Galen Alley, a lobsterman from Beals Island who died in a Jan. 16 car crash near Jonesport.
“On the water, he was known as the record holder for the world’s fastest lobster boat, and he spent many summer weekends screaming down a lobster boat race course with the throttle pegged down hard to the console,” National Fisherman reported in February. “Alley set the official record, as recognized by the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association, in his 30-foot Foolish Pleasure, topping out at 72.8 mph at the Stonington Lobster Boat Races in July 2011.”
Races were scheduled for Rockland on Sunday, Bass Harbor on June 23, Beals Island/Jonesport on June 29, Stonington on July 7, Friendship on July 21, Harpswell on July 28, Winter Harbor on Aug. 10, Pemaquid on Aug. 11, Long Island on Aug. 17 and Portland on Aug. 18.
Watch: The lure of the annual lobster boat races