Close finishes highlight Lobster Boat Races
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: email@example.com.