With the theme and rallying cry of “COVID-19 Didn’t Sink Us," 52 vessels registered, including a handful of newcomers, for 31 speedy water battles during the annual Friendship Lobster Boat Race on Sunday, July 19.

While a handful of the state's lobster boat races were not held this summer due to the pandemic, Rockland, and later Friendship, went off without a hitch. Rockland hosted its races in June and Friendship in July.

Elizabeth-Ann Bartlett said for the Friendship event some trailered boats to the site and others anchored offshore. "But all came ready to race," she said.

The fastest lobster boats were Blue-Eyed Girl, Andrew Taylor (46 mph); Kimberly Ann, Eric Beal (35 mph); and La Belle Vita, Jeff Eaton (speed unavailable).

The fastest Friendship lobster boat were Isaac & Colby, Keith Simmons (35.7 mph); Salt Shaker, Eugene Harrington; Avery & Alden, Jeromy Simmons; and Heat.

The Friendship Lobster Boat Race committee, an all-volunteer group made up of lobstermen, local and greater community businesses and interested individuals, included Wesley Lash, Heidi Thibodeau, Chip Jahnke, Robin Reed, Kendall Delano, Keith Simmons, David Reckards, Amber Wotton, Wax and Marie Brackett, Dustin Delano and Elizabeth-Ann Bartlett.

The committee held the races under approved safety plans and guidelines for COVID-19. The committee also had the support of the town selectmen to go-ahead on the races, Bartlett said.

"The committee members were so happy and looking forward to it happening since so many events were cancelled locally and around Maine," Bartlett said. "Lobster boat races were being cancelled up to the last few weeks prior to Friendship’s races. So, it was so important that Friendship’s races were happening. Everybody in the area were so ready to share some water fun with their families and friends to cheer on their fellow lobstermen, even to just have bragging rights for their winning boats."

The 2020 races were dedicated to Friendship's 2020 graduating high school seniors, in honor of Carl Simmons Jr (still fishing) and in memory of Joel M. Fearn, Friendship’s town clerk for more than 20 years.

The committee members did their part to pull this off this year, Bartlett said. Zoom meetings were the way for most members to communicate throughout the project.

Thibodeau, committee secretary, looked after filing the important paperwork, maintaining the annual Friendship Village School grade 6 tee-shirt contest, ordering trophies, and clothing and finding help at the last-minute on Sunday.

Reed oversaw the food concession, represented the committee at the Fishermen Forum and helped with the raffle tickets.

Jahnke and Bartlett, along with Kendall Delano, Simmons and Thibodeau, organized the sponsorships and prize list. Jahnke has coordinated for years with Jeff’s Marine on the donation of the outboard motor for the raffle.

Wax and Marie Brackett helped in areas through the year and did things prior and after the races without comprising their health, Bartlett said.

Wotton managed the Facebook and Zoom sites and ordered items as needed.

Lash did a great job announcing the races and the winners, Bartlett said. Dustin Delano worked the starter boat. With help on the prize float from committee member Kendall Delano, with his helper Tonya Robinson-Carter

"So, it was a team effort to have a successful race day," Bartlett said.

The Friendship lobster boat races originally were started to bring the community together to raise funds for the town’s ambulance service. For more than 13 years this was a remarkably successful fundraising event, under the leadership of Wesley A. Lash Sr. until his unexpected death in 2013. Friendship lobster boat races were not held in 2014.

A new committee of volunteers was formed in 2015 by his son, Wes, with the following goals: to provide boat racers and spectators with the best race course with many participating lobster boats from all along the coast of Maine; to promote our sponsors who donated money and prizes to the races and to provide scholarship funds for Friendship’s graduating seniors through The Friendship Memorial Scholarship Fund. We have donated almost $10,000 to the scholarship, Bartlett said.

"This is young Wes’s last year calling the races and the committee appreciates all his efforts over the years," Bartlett said.

"The greater community continues to be a great help with this amazing event. The committee appreciates everybody’s support and teamwork to meet our scholarship goals," Bartlett said.

There were 29 state races of boats, along with two local additions. Race winners were awarded trophies and prizes for first, second and third places.

This year the event hat seven special individual classes of sponsorship: The Fastest Friendship Lobster Boat, Gasoline Free for All, Diesel Free for All, Two Wooden Boats classes, Fastest Lobster Boat and a new race for Hyundai engines.

"The committee was pleased that our sponsors continue their support for the 31 races with over $10,000 of donated prizes and money in sponsorship," Bartlett said.

Lobster boat registration started at 8 am on Sunday, July 19, as the first 50 registered boat captain received their gift bag full of businesses promotional items. The hit was the toilet paper with the sticker that said: "COVID-19 Didn't Sink Us."

Races started at 10:30 a.m. and continued to 2:30 p.m.

Food concessions offered $10 lobster meal deals, subs, pizza starting and selling tee-shirts, caps, facemasks and sweatshirts on the town and Fishermen’s Heritage wharfs. Face masks and face shields were available to keep people safe.

A percentage of the funds from the races and the sales of raffle tickets for a Yamaha 4 Stroke outboard motor donated by Jeff’s Marine helped support the Friendship Memorial Scholarship Fund. The drawing for the outboard was July 29.

"We want to thank the volunteers, residents and their families, individuals, corporate and business sponsors, supporters, and contributors for their donations (cash, prizes, food items, supplies, etc.) and all racers and fans," Bartlett said.

The official results, reported by Jon Johansen of Maine Coastal News, included:

Work boats under 24 feet

Class A Skiff s 16-feet and under with outboards up to 30 hp, Operator 18 years and younger: 1, Jenily, Jennifer and Emily Noyes (30.1 mph).

Class B Inboards, outboards or outdrives, 31 to 90 hp: 1, Zippin’ Too, Jacob Noyes (42.8 mph); 2, Zippin, David Noyes; 3, Miss Diane, Frank Bennett; 4, —, Craig Luce; 5) Salty Dog, Wyatt Simmons; and 6, Quahog, Alden Simmons.

Class C, Inboards, outboards or outdrives, 91 hp and up: 1, Casco Miss, Dave Johnson (46.2 mph); 2, Delusional, Ron Pottle; 3, —, Derck Earley; 4, Melody Marie, Chris Achorn; 5, —, Myron Wotton; and 6, Lobster Catcher, Wyatt Simmons.

Gas-powered work boats 24 feet and up

Gasoline Class A – 4 & 6 cylinder 24 feet and over: 1, Cindy Jen, Jon Johansen.

Gasoline Class B – V-8 up to 375 cid, 24 feet and up: 1, J. T. Bean, Michael Clayton.

Gasoline Class C – V-8, 376 to 525cid, 24 to 29 feet: 1, Black Diamond, Lindsay Durkee (30.6 mph); and 2, Roar, Jim Lee.

Gasoline Class D – V-8, 376 and over, 28 feet and over: No entrants.

Gasoline Class E – V-8, Over 525cid, 28 feet and over, superchargers/Turbos. No entrants.

Diesel-powered work boats 24 feet and up

Diesel Class A – Up to 235 hp, 24 to 31 feet: No entrants.

Diesel Class B – Up to 235 hp, 32 feet and over: 1, Merganser, Don Drisko (28.3 mph); and 2, Never Ending, Adrien Phaenephom (11.6 mph).

Diesel Class C – 236 to 335 hp, 24 to 34 feet: 1, Venom, Steven Osgood (37.8 mph); 2) Beverly Joyce, Sam Lash (16.2 mph); and DNF, Last Design, Roy Fagonde.

Diesel Class D – 236 to 335 hp, 34 feet and over: 1, Maloney Tradition, Ryan Maloney (22.5 mph).

Diesel Class E – 336 to 435 hp, 24 to 33 feet: 1, High Voltage, Dan Sawyer (37.8 mph); 2, Miss Kylee, Ed Shirley; 3, Audrey May, Randy Durkee; and 4, Guilty Pleasure, Jake Dugas.

Diesel Class F – 336 to 435 hp, 34 feet and over: 1, Aiden Mariner, Winfred Alley (34.8 mph); 2, Karamel, Josh Audet (23.4 mph); and 3, Carl & Co., Craig Stewart.

Diesel Class G – 436 to 550 hp, 28 to 35 feet: 1, Right Stuff, Dana Beal (40.8 mph); 2, Lil’ Lisa Marie, Gary Genthner; 3, Heather’s Boys, Keith Simmons; and 4, Last Date, Walker Simmons.

Diesel Class H – 436 to 550 hp, 36 feet and over: 1, First Team, Travis Otis (27.3 mph).

Diesel Class I – 551 to 700 hp, 28 to 35 feet: 1, Maria’s Nightmare, Jeremy Beal (47 mph); and 2, Misty, Chris Smith (26 mph).

Diesel Class J – 551 to 700 hp, 36 feet and over: No entrants.

Diesel Class K – 701 to 900 hp, 28 feet and over: 1, Blue Eyed Girl, Andrew Taylor (45.2 mph); 2, La Belle Vita, Jeff Eaton (36 mph); and 3, Heidi MacKenzie, Jr., Ronald Hall (31 mph).

Diesel Class L – 901 hp and over, 28 feet and over: No entrants.

Diesel Class M(A) – 40 feet and over, up to 500 hp: 1, Old School, Chris Pope (25.4 mph); 2) Ryleefi nn, Michael Cushman; 3, Sea Urchin, Alan Knowlton; 4, Paige & Adrienne, Jacob Watt; and 5, Knotty Lady, Dustin Delano.

Diesel Class M(B) – 40 feet and over, 501 to 750 hp: 1, Kimberly Ann, Eric Beal (36.6 mph); 2, Alexsa Rose, Matt Sheppard; and 3, Noah & Lily, Eric Harjula.

Diesel Class N – 40 feet and over; 751 hp and over: 1, Isaac & Colby, Keith Simmons (35 mph); 2, Salt Shaker, Eugene Harrington (33 mph); 3, Avery & Alden, Jeromy Simmons; and 4, Taylor Nicole, Frank Guptill.

Class O. Non-working boats, any length, any horsepower: No entrants.

Hyundai Race: 1, Karamel, Josh Audet (25 mph); 2, Ryleefi nn, Michael Cushman (20 mph); 3, Knotty Lady, Dustin Delano; and DNS, Paige & Adrienne, Jacob Watt. Race 25

Fastest Friendship Lobster Boat: 1, Isaac & Colby, Keith Simmons (35.7 mph); 2, Salt Shaker, Eugene Harrington; 3, Avery & Alden, Jeromy Simmons; 4, Heat.

Gasoline Free for All: 1, Black Diamond, Lindsay Durkee (36.3 mph); and 2, Cindy Jen, Jon Johansen (15 mph).

Diesel Free for All: 1, Blue Eyed Girl, Andrew Taylor (46.3 mph); 2, Kimberly Ann, Eric Beal (35 mph); 3, La Belle Vita, Jeff Eaton; 4, Alexsa Rose, Matt Sheppard; and 5, Karamel, Josh Audet.

Wooden Boats, up to 35’ 11”: 1, Merganser, Don Drisko (28.7 mph); 2, Roar, Jim Lee (23 mph); 3, J. T. Bean, Michael Clayton; and 4, Cindy Jen, Jon Johansen (14.3 mph).

Wooden Boats, 36 feet and over: 1, Never Ending, Adrien Phaenephom (7.5 mph)

Fastest Lobster Boat: 1, Blue Eyed Girl, Andrew Taylor (46 mph); 2, Kimberly Ann, Eric Beal (35 mph); and 3, La Belle Vita, Jeff Eaton.

Courier Publications' sports staff can be reached by email at sports@villagesoup.com or by phone at 594-4401.