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Maine's Lobster Boat Races have Long Legacy

The beginning of the Maine lobster boat races is shrouded in time but according to Jon Johansen, publisher of Maine Coastal News and president of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association, it all began in the early 1900s when two lobstermen, fishing from their respective Friendship sloops, got into a race.

Lobster Boat Race. Outboards. Boats on Moosabec Reach "J'Port Races"

Friendship sloops quickly faded from the water as gasoline-powered engines became commonplace. According to Maine-ly Lobster, a web site of Maine native Christina Lemieux Oragano, the racing really took off in the Moosabec Reach during the 1920s. “The Reach became an ideal testing ground for boat builders to trial their latest designs. Each time a builder won the coveted prize of fastest lobster boat, it was a wonderful advertisement for his business,” she wrote. Eventually, in 1964, casual competitions became the official lobster boat races.

Two men racing open boats with outboard motors. Lobster boat races, Moosabec Reach

There are many stories about the rivalries among the racers. Throughout it all was the ever-increasing need for speed. Colby, Arvid and Arvin Young raced their Sopwith Camel fast and furiously for many years against Corliss Holland’s Red Baron. Alfred Osgood of Vinalhaven set a 2010 record in his diesel-powered Starlight Express, reaching 58.9 miles per hour. Galen Alley of Beals Island set a record for gasoline engines when his Foolish Pleasure clocked in at 72.8 mph. Just last month, Wild Wild West, now owned by Cameron Crawford, broke another speed record, 61.6 mph, at the race in Stonington.

Starlight Express _courtesy Jon Johansen

Those earlier lobstermen would shake their heads in amazement at the speed, but they would certainly recognize the camaraderie that has remained steady at the races throughout the decades.

Apparition courtesy Jon Johansen


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