The Downeast lobster boat racing season ends each summer with fierce competition at the Winter Harbor Lobster Boat Races early in August. FILE PHOTO

Familiar venues missing from summer lobster boat racing circuit

ROCKPORT — To the uninitiated, lobster boat racing may be a bit of the “same old same old,” but this summer there will be no racing in a couple of the same old places.

Early this month, the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association met at the Fishermen’s Forum to discuss the upcoming season and agree on a “final” schedule for this summer’s racing.” The calendar — subject always to the vagaries of weather and town politics — includes 10 events in harbors ranging along the coast from Portland to Moosabec Reach. Missing from the list are Harpswell and Searsport.

Barring changes, the schedule set at the forum opens with a full slate of races in Boothbay Harbor on Saturday June 18. The next day, racing moves to a course inside the breakwater in Rockland Harbor.

After an interlude that will give fishermen time to get more of their traps into the water, the racing fleet will head for Moosabec Reach on Saturday, July 2, then move to Bass Harbor on Mount Desert Island on Sunday, July 3. Next stop on the circuit, and the last in eastern Maine for a while: the Stonington Lobster Boat Races on Sunday, July 10.

With both Searsport and Harpswell off the calendar, lobstermen will get a two-week break before racing resumes in Friendship on Sunday, July 24. After another two-week holiday, racing will resume at the Winter Harbor Lobster Festival on Saturday, Aug. 13, followed by the Merritt Bracket Memorial events in Pemaquid on Aug. 14.

The season wraps up far to the westward, with races at Long Island in Casco Bay on Saturday, Aug. 20, and in Portland Harbor on Sunday, Aug. 21.

Harpswell and Searsport were both absent from the racing card last year, though it was hoped that those absences would be temporary. Searsport first cancelled its races in 2014 pending the reconstruction of the town dock. The hiatus continued last year after race organizers Keith and Travis Otis realized that, with the harbor home to just a handful of fishermen, there wasn’t enough local interest to sustain continued racing.

As happened last year, a shortage of volunteer help again put paid to racing in Harpswell this year.

According to Jon Johansen of the Maine Lobster Boat Racing Association, both towns have abandoned hosting racing events “at this time, forever.”

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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