“Race what you brung” is a key ingredient to the popularity of lobster-boat racing in Maine.
Lobster folks, theoretically, can haul traps in the morning and race their workboats in the afternoon. On the other hand, that’s not good enough for some Maine builders, such as Steve Johnson, of Johnson’s Boat Yard.
His latest boat, Elizabeth, is a custom lobster racer powered by a big-block 1,100-hp Chevrolet V-8. The engine’s dry-stack exhaust is so loud the driver has to wear hearing protection.
Traditional lobster boats aren’t meant to go all that fast — 15 to 20 knots, give or take. Even if you throw an extra herd of horses at them, they squat at the stern and drag half the bay along behind them. Their rounded bilges are mostly to blame; a boat needs chines to lift it on plane.
Johnson got around this by designing chine flats into the bottom to create lift. They terminate several feet forward of the transom, so from astern, the bottom appears to be that of a typical lobster boat.
Elizabeth runs at top speed with her bow kissing the water. No squat means high speeds.