STONINGTON — It was hot as blazes last weekend, but the weather was nothing compared with the competition that set Deer Island Thorofare to boiling Sunday at the Stonington Lobster Boat Races.
At just about the midpoint of the racing season, 109 boats signed up to run in the day’s 33 races. No one set a new speed record, but on the whole the fleet was blazing fast, with several boats — gas- and diesel-powered — smashing the once impenetrable 50 miles per hour mark.
For the first time this year, virtually all the top competitors were at the races at the same time.
In a maiden appearance this season, Bruce Engert’s Thunderbolt put on a show in Gas Class D, but couldn’t handle Shawn Alley’s Little Girls.
It turned out nobody could. Still winning races some 34 years after Calvin Beal, Jr. launched the 28-footer (as Little Girl), the wooden speedster won her class race, the wooden boat race for boats under 36 feet, the gasoline free-for-all and the title of “fastest lobstah boat afloat.”
Little Girls clocked 50.3 miles per hour in the “Fastest Lobstah Boat” race, and topped 47 miles per hour in two other races, but she wasn’t alone in breaking the “half-ton” mark.
Running solo in the gasoline, supercharger/turbocharger class, Galen Alley pushed Foolish Pleasure up to 50.4 miles per hour before calling it a day. Four years ago, the 30-footer turned in a still record 72.8 miles per hour run at Stonington.
Two more boats, both diesels, topped the 50 miles per hour mark. In the race for boats over 28 feet with engines of 901 horsepower or more, Ed Shirley’s Miss Karlee ran down the Thorofare at 50.3 miles per hour and just nipped Cameron Crawford’s Wild Wild West for the win. Four races later, Crawford returned the favor and won the Diesel Free-for-All — with a 50.2-miles-per-hour run.
Miss Karlee also took home the Jimmy Stevens Cup, awarded to the fastest working lobster boat, running a leisurely 43.2 miles per hour. Jeff Eaton’s La Bella Vita, winner of the boatbuilder’s exhibition race at 40.2 miles per hour, was right behind him.
For the next two weeks, the racing moves to the Midcoast with events in Friendship on July 12 and Harpswell on July 26. The next opportunity to watch the races Downeast will come on Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Winter Harbor Lobster Festival.