You’ve heard of road races and car races, but have you ever heard of lobster boat races? Across Maine, lobstermen gather for the Maine Lobster Boat Races every summer.
A thrilling spectacle that locals and tourists alike flock to for a fun show and a one-of-a-kind experience. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about the Maine Lobster Boat Races.
Maine Lobster Boat Races Overview
The state of Maine is known for its lobster. From restaurants to gift shops to museums, you’re sure to find Maine lobster as a focal point.
Being a lobsterman is tough work with long hours out at sea, but every summer weekend, the Maine Lobster Boat Races allow the lobstermen to blow off some steam and put their boats to the test against others in front of exuberant fans.
Growing Crowds & Participants
The Maine Lobster Boat Races draw crowds all summer with races up and down the Maine coastline. While there are prizes at the end of the lobster boat race season, the greatest prize for the lobstermen is the thrill of a win and bragging rights!
Lobstermen look forward to the racing season all year, and the event seems to grow with more participants annually — with some races boasting over 100 boats.
Typically, the races are split by boat type. Past events have had races for workboats under 24 feet, gas-powered workboats over 24 feet, and diesel-powered workboats over 24 feet.
The participants collect points throughout the season and have the chance to win cash prizes and trophies at individual races. To finish off the competitive season, an awards banquet and celebration is typically held in late September or early October.
The Maine Lobster Boat Races are free for spectators and make fun social gatherings. Bring a chair, beach blankets, a cooler, and maybe even a grill. Then, get ready to cheer on the hard-working lobstermen of Maine.
Many spectators watch from land, but the best place to be during one of these races is on a boat. Some ferries and boats offer special race day trips so that you can get up close to the races and see all of the action.
History of the Maine Lobster Boat Races
The Maine Lobster Boat Races have been going on for as long as lobstermen have been out at sea. However, the first official story about racing dates back to the early 1900s.
The story says that a lobsterman named Beals challenged another lobsterman to a race. Beals won the race, and the other lobsterman insisted on a rematch. They swapped boats and Beals won again, even using a boat he wasn’t familiar with.
Informal lobster boat races stemmed from there as a sort of game that the lobstermen would play to keep busy on the open waters and for some fun. Decades later, in 1964, the first organized Maine Lobster Boat Races were held.
Throughout the years, the races have grown in popularity and coincide with community festivals and activities.
Maine Lobster Boat Race Locations
With the Maine Lobster Boat Races growing in regards to participants, so have the number of locations where the races are held. Below, you’ll find a list of the usual racing spots, but keep in mind that these could change.
The lobster boat racing season typically starts in the beautiful seaside town of Boothbay Harbor Maine. If you’re looking to view the races by land, get to Boothbay Harbor early to claim a prime viewing spot. Be sure to bring a pair of binoculars because views from the harbor can be tough as the boats get moving.
The Maine Lobster Boat Races at Rockland Harbor Maine kick off from the Journey’s End Marina. The best viewing spots are right on the water. If you can’t access a boat, try viewing from the marina or Rockland Breakwater.
Along with Bass Harbor having great views of the Maine Lobster Boat Races in Tremont, the village amps up the fun to make it a full-day affair.
Bass Harbor hosts a car and motorcycle show, a pig roast and barbecue, and the local church’s blessing of cars and motorcycles. Following the races, there’s a Blessing of the Fleet where the lobster boats are formally blessed.
Jonesport & Beals Island
The Moosabec Reach races between Jonesport and Beals Island are particularly fun because of the town’s festivities each year.
The race route is about 1 mile long and stops before the bridge that connects Jonesport to Beals Island. The race used to include going under the bridge, but that stopped after lobstermen crashed while trying to navigate under the bridge and around other boats.
Typically, the races kick off with a lobster boat parade to the docks. If the weather is decent, stay for fireworks at night to top off the fun day of events. Beals Island at Perio Point or the docks at Jonesport are great spots to view the races.
Stonington Maine is the quintessential fishing town and makes a perfect backdrop to the Maine Lobster Boat Races. Swing by Stonington Harbor before the races start to get a good look at nearly 100 lobster boats lined up.
The town is hopping from early in the morning on race day with activities, food stands, and friendly locals buzzing with excitement. If you can’t get on a spectator boat, Stonington Harbor offers a great view of the races.
The Friendship Maine Lobster Boat Races start at Friendship Harbor. Food stands are set up along the town’s landing, alongside tables selling hats and T-shirts for souvenirs. Onlookers can view the races from Friendship Harbor or on the water in the harbor.
The Harpswell Maine Lobster Boat Races can be viewed from Mitchell Field if you don’t have a boat. It’s best to bring binoculars because, once the races get started, visibility can be tough at this location. Spectators are also welcome to bring chairs and blankets to set up at the beach and in grassy areas.
Winter Harbor has an amazing Lobster Festival to coincide with its lobster races. For over 50 years, the Winter Harbor Lobster Festival has provided a day to unwind with family-friendly activities.
The day typically starts with a Maine blueberry pancake breakfast and is followed by a craft fair and then the boat races. In the afternoon and evening, there’s a lobster dinner and a parade. Be sure to set aside the whole day to soak in all of the Winter Harbor fun.
If you’re looking to watch the races by land, check out Frazier Point or Schoodic Point.
Merritt Brackett (Pemaquid)
The Merritt Bracket races are named for a boat mechanic who was well-known in the Pemaquid area. The races can be viewed from Pemaquid Colonial Park or directly on the water. The race is one of the shortest races at only a two-thirds-mile long.
The Long Island Maine Lobster Boat Races offer spectators a day of entertainment with a Wharf Street Festival. There’s live music, raffles, food vendors, and activities for children before and after the races. We recommend hopping on a ferry or spectator boat in Casco Bay to watch the races.
MS Harborfest is a community fundraiser festival that goes on for three days with auctions and races. The festival features various boats from Maine. Check out Fort Allen Park or the Eastern Promenade for good viewing spots.
In addition to the Maine Lobster Boat Races, MS Harborfest has a tugboat race. All of the proceeds from the festival benefit the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation.
No races are held at Robinson’s Wharf in Southport Maine, but this is where the summer-long competition comes to an end. The Maine Lobster Boat Races association holds an annual meeting before the awards banquet. During the banquet, dinner is served and the final awards are announced.
FAQs About Maine Lobster Boat Races
Is it better to view the Maine Lobster Boat Races on land or water?
The best viewing spots for the Maine Lobster Boat Races are on the water in either a ferry or spectator boat.
How long are the Maine Lobster Boat Races?
The lengths of the Maine Lobster Boat Races vary by location. Some of the courses are less than 1 mile, while others are a few miles. And, some routes are straight, while others are loops.
How fast do the boats go during the Maine Lobster Boat Races?
Depending on the Maine Lobster Boat Races locations and courses, the boat speeds vary. However, the fastest boats reach 50 to 60 mph.
What should I bring to the Maine Lobster Boat Races?
Since the Maine Lobster Boat Races are in the summertime, it’s best to bring sunscreen. For distant viewing, binoculars are recommended. Other handy items to pack include refreshments and a sweatshirt in case there’s a cool ocean breeze.
Celebrate Lobster & Lobstermen at the Maine Lobster Boat Races
From festivals to food vendors to live music, each host town for the Maine Lobster Boat Races has something special to offer spectators. Lobster boat race days are filled with celebration, family-friendly fun, and good-natured competition.
The Maine Lobster Boat Races are truly a unique experience that you won’t find anywhere else. Whether you’re planning to attend all of the races or to catch one this summer, be prepared for upbeat, noisy crowds cheering on their favorite lobster boats.