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Lobster Boat Racing, then and now

Posted on April 27, 2011 Jim Turple

I was looking over my old photo album of lobster boat racing during the 1950s, 60s and 70s when my father was very much involved in that local activity.
I recall lobster boat races being held just about every year at such places like P.E.I., Cape John, Pugwash, Pictou Island, Pictou Landing and yes, Pictou. Those past wooden lobster boats would usually range from 30 to 36 feet in length with the 36 footer being a rather large boat for those times. Fishermen often built their own boats and took great pride with their speed. They often competed against each other for the title of having the fastest boat.
My father was one such fisherman who, for just about all of his working life, competed for that title with the boats that he built himself.
I remember well those years when the last lobster traps were landed for the season. Dad would haul his boat onto the shore so that it would dry and become lighter thus making it faster. He often would scrape the old paint from its hull and apply a new bright coat.
Overhauling the old gasoline motor was always a necessity to make sure that it would put out its top horsepower. My father had accumulated many race trophies over his fishing career.
The last boat that my father built was 34 feet long. During its last racing years, my father powered it with a Dodge Magnum 440 Cubic Inch motor that had approximately 375 horsepower. That heavy wooden lobster boat reached a top speed of 42 mph at the 1977 Pictou Lobster Carnival.
Now we have but one local event where today’s fishermen can display their racing talents with their boats and that is the annual Pictou Lobster Carnival. Much has changed over the years with the boat designs and structure. Lobster boats today are much larger and usually constructed with fiberglass. They are usually powered by large diesel motors rather then gasoline engines.
Still, we have those fishermen who enjoy the need for speed and have built smaller fiberglass modified racing boats powered with gasoline engines packing up to and sometimes over 750hp that can reach top speeds of over 60 mph.
This yea’s Pictou Lobster Carnival Boat Races should prove to be very interesting for all ages. Our familiar Lobster Boat Races along with an array of many fast modified boats, some powered with those engines over 750 HP, will provide much excitement to the Pictou waterfront.
There will be different race categories for both lobster boats and modified racing boats with possibly 10 confirmed modified racing boats attending.
The lobster boats will run a straight course approximately one kilometer long.
The modified racing boats will race approximately ¾ of a kilometer along the main waterfront towards two buoys with the option of either turning right or left around said buoys and back to the finish line.
These races will be clearly visibly from all along the Pictou waterfront.
Be sure to mark your calendar for this event.

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