Eastport lobster boat races thrill hundreds of spectators
BDN | BDN
Jeanne Peacock prepares to challenge other boats in the Fifth Annual Eastport Pirate Festival boat parade Sunday afternoon in Passamaquoddy Bay. Dozens of boats, from lobster boats to pleasure craft to racing cigarette boats, participated in the parade which was then followed by the first International Lobster Boat Race. The events were part of the final day of the three-day Eastport festival. (Bangor Daily News/Sharon Kiley Mack)
BDN | BDN
Jeanne Peacock greets hundreds of spectators on the Eastport breakwater Sunday who were there to enjoy the Fifth Annual Eastport Pirate Festival boat parade in Passamaquoddy Bay. Dozens of boats, from lobster boats to pleasure craft to racing cigarette boats, participated in the parade which was then followed by the first International Lobster Boat Race. The events were part of the final day of the three-day Eastport festival. (Bangor Daily News/Sharon Kiley Mack)
BDN | BDN
Nearly a dozen lobster boats competed Sunday afternoon in the Eastport Pirate Festival's first annual International Lobster Boat Race. All of the boats came from Maine, however, since there were no Canadian entries. Hundreds of spectators lined the Eastport breakwater and fish piers to cheer on the contestants, including Galen Alley of Beals, who holds the state record of nearly 70 miles per hour. (Bangor Daily News/Sharon Kiley Mack)
EASTPORT, Maine — Eight-year-old Cody Thomas of Brewer watched the inaugural International Lobster Races at Eastport with his mouth hanging open.
“He was entranced,” said Elissa Thomas, the boy’s mother.
“I want one of those boats,” the boy added with eyes wide.
Hundreds of spectators lined the Eastport breakwater and the fish pier or sat in boats in Passamaquoddy Bay to enjoy the races, which turned out not to be so international after all. There were no entrants from Canada.
Lobster boat race winners
Division 1, junior skippers division age 18 and under, up to 25 hp must be with adult: Kali Alley, 9, Jonesport.
Division 2, working boat outboard-stern drive division: Ralph Davis, Jonesport.
Division 9 working lobster boat inboard division: Wendall Bryant, Cutler.
Division 10, working lobster boat dragger division: no boats.
Division 11, fastest working boat in Eastport area: Skip Harris, Eastport.
Division 12, fastest working boat U.S. lobster boat: Wendall Bryant, Cutler.
Division 13, fastest working boat Canadian lobster boat: no boats.
Division 14, international United States versus Canada: Wendall Bryant, Cutler.
Open to first three finishers of divisions 12 and 13, Division 15, Galen Alley open challenge division: Galen Alley, Jonesport.
New unofficial speed record lobster style boat: 70.3 mph.
The race seemed to suffer a bit from “opening night jitters,” as the racing committee boat broke down and had to be towed, a mooring let loose and a sightseeing boat was pressed into service as the official timing boat, complete with radar gun.
But all of the delays were quickly forgotten when the first three racers, cigarette boats, shot by the breakwater at breakneck speeds.
The crowds cheered and clapped for each of the lobster boat heats, too, clearly enjoying a sunny day on the coast.
Sunday was the third and final day of the Pirate Festival, which included parades on and off the water, bed races, a pirate ball and crowning of king and queen pirates, races, costume contests and live music, as well as food and vendors. Organizers estimate 10,000 people attended the three-day festival.
Event organizer John Miller said that Sunday’s lobster boat races were not part of the sanctioned races on the 10-race circuit in Maine this year, but he hoped they would be part of the circuit next year.
A grand prize of $1,000 was awarded.
Miller said the lobster boat races were particularly appropriate for Eastport because the city is steeped in maritime history.
“In addition to marking that history, the races also honor the hardworking men and women that earn their living on the water here in Maine and New Brunswick,” he said.