‘Like NASCAR and tractor pulling all wrapped into one’: Lobster boats race in Stonington Harbor

Posted July 14, 2014, at 1:05 p.m.
Last modified July 14, 2014, at 2:46 p.m.

STONINGTON, MAINE — On Stonington’s idyllic coastline, the sounds of gulls were drowned out by the roar of 750 horsepower engines on Sunday. Race fans lined the liquid drag strip with dozens of boats and hundreds of people to watch the 2014 Stonington Lobster Boat Races in the fishing town’s harbor.

“It’s like NASCAR and tractor pulling all wrapped into one,” said Travis Otis, vice president of the Maine Lobster Boat Association.

Otis said some of these high speed lobster boats can reach upwards of 70 mph. The fastest boat of the day was Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot, owned by Roger Kennedy, and it clocked in at 47.4 mph.

“I’ve been going to these races since the ’70s,” said race judge Keith Young.

Young’s job as one of the judges is to decide the winners and make sure the boaters stay compliant during the day’s 31 races. Young sits perched atop a giant floating barge that is moored at the finish line.

Brent Oliver’s boat, the Jarsulan 4, was one of two boats filled with partying spectators tied off to the barge. Emily Kaplan, Erin Polselli and Rod Raykhman were dancing on the roof, while about 20 others were on deck.

“[My daughter] says it’s Christmas in the summer,” said Oliver. “It’s just a gathering of friends mainly.”