More than 20 races held

Close finishes highlight Lobster Boat Races

By Larry Di Giovanni | Jun 15, 2014
Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni The race pitting Little Girls, foreground, against Thunderbolt, red, in background, was one of the closest contests during the Rockland Lobster Boat Races June 15. Thunderbolt caught up late as Little Girls blew a rod and coasted to the finish line.

Rockland — In one of the closest finishes at the Rockland Lobster Boat Races June 15, Thunderbolt edged Little Girls and achieved the day's top speed of 48 mph in victory.

The day featured more than 20 races. Classes ranged from small outboard boats to gas-powered V-8 competitors like the Thunderbolt to large diesel-class vessels more than 40-feet-long and in excess of 750 horsepower.

Jon Johanson, president of Maine Lobster Boat Races, said it appeared that Little Girls, piloted by owner Shawn Alley, was going to win a close race in the Gasoline Class D category. But its engine blew a rod near the finish line as the speedy Thunderbolt and its owner, Bruce Engert, took the race. As it turned out, Thunderbolt also experienced engine trouble and could not compete in the Gasoline Free for All or Fastest Lobster Boat final race.

The Fastest Lobster Boat title was earned by Roger Kennedy of Steuben, owner of Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which raced in the Diesel I class for boats ranging from 28- to 35-feet-long and 551 to 700 horsepower. His top speed on the day was 45 mph. Kennedy also prevailed during the Diesel I class and Diesel Free for All races.

"He has the fastest boat today because his didn't break," Johanson said.

It was the first time Kennedy, who owns Kennedy Marine Engineering in Steuben, has competed in the Rockland Lobster Boat Races. He has raced before in Winter Harbor and Jonesport.

Kennedy assembled Whiskey Tango Foxtrot's 6.7-liter, 560 horsepower Cummins FPT engine with a bit of co-worker help.

"The wind was knocking us down a little bit," Kennedy said. "We just launched the boat this winter, built from a Mitchell Cove 28 2003 model that had been sitting around for 10 years before I bought it."

Asked how he would have fared against Thunderbolt or Little Girls, Kennedy said, "The best I have had out of mine is 49 [mph]. So it would have been a good contest, let's put it that way."

Racing conditions were fine June 15, but no records were set, Johanson said. To do so, a gas-powered lobster boat would need to top 72 mph. Rockland was the second race of the 10-race Maine Lobster Boat Races season.

"Racers want the water to bounce a little bit because it will break the surface tension between their boats and the water," Johanson said.

Rockland Lobster Boat Races representative Ryan Post, who piloted the starter boat, said the races have a positive economic impact on Rockland. More than $120,000 in cash and prizes have been given to the Rockland contestants since the city's first races in 2007. There were nearly 40 sponsors for this year's event. One of them, Journey's End Marina and parent owner O'Hara Corporation, hosted the post-race raffle and meal.

"I guarantee you that more than $100,000 was spent in Rockland, Maine, last night because these lobster racers were in town to compete the next day," Post said.

Courier Publications reporter Larry Di Giovanni can be reached at 594-4401 x. 117, or by email at: ldigiovanni@villagesoup.com.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, here shown winning the Fastest Lobster Boat Race June 15, was the top overall finisher, winning three races. It is owned by Roger Kennedy of Steuben. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
In a tight race that typified the Rockland Lobster Boat Races June 15, Whistlin' Dixie, left, edges 4Girls and Bailey & Bella in a three-boat race for large diesel vessels 40 feet and longer and with 750 or more horsepower. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
Lobster boat racing fans, in their own boats, line up near the racing course to enjoy the action. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
Fans visiting the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse also viewed some of the Rockland Lobster Boat races. The racing course runs alongside most of the breakwater. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
Chris Pope and son Henry Pope, 14, of Swans Island, raced their diesel boat, Old School, in the Diesel Class C race for lobster boats 24- to 33-feet-long. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
Large diesel lobster boats Whistlin' Dixie and 4Girls demonstrate how close the racing margins were June 15 as they approached the finish line along the Rockland Breakwater. (Photo by: Larry Di Giovanni)
One of the 20 races held during the Lobster Boat Races in Rockland Harbor June 15 ended with some wet spectators along the breakwater. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
A panoramic view of the breakwater during the Lobster Boat Races June 15. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Several boats race to the finish during the Lobster Boat Races June 15 in Rockland harbor. Top speed reached was 48 miles per hour. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Following the annual Lobster Boat Races in Rockland June 15, several spectator boats linger in the harbor. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Spectators line the Rockland Breakwater for the annual Lobster Boat Races June 15. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Comments (1)
Posted by: Dorothy Black | Jun 16, 2014 09:44

Roger Kennedy was the winner of the "Ron Packard Trophy".  which is given for the fastest boat.  Ron was an active member of our race committee, and we miss him...RIP.



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Larry Di Giovanni
207 594-4401 ext. 117
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Larry Di Giovanni, a veteran journalist with more than 20 years of experience, is returning to his daily reporting roots in order to cover the city of Rockland for The Courier-Gazette. Originally from Athens, Ohio, his family includes one son, Tony.

Di Giovanni has covered news beats ranging from the city of South Lake Tahoe, Calif., to the largest tribal government in the United States — the Navajo Nation. He has also worked as a writer in the public education and higher education fields. He's an animal enthusiast and loves dogs.

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