By Denis Bourbonnais
The Grand Prix class welcomed another driver from the region when the hydroplanes were officially launched at over 225 km/h at the first racing event of the 2016 season, the Stuart Sailfish Regattas, in Florida, on May 21st and 22nd.
Bertrand Dulude, who currently resides in les Cèdres, made his debut inside the GP-48 Zero Gravity, previously Michael Grendell’s GP-79 Bad Influence, and could finally live out a moment he had been dreaming of for weeks.
After four seasons in Hydro 350, he jumped on the chance to move up to the fastest class of the Hydroplane Racing League. “I envisioned being in the Grand Prix class in two or three years, but opportunity knocked earlier and I could not refuse. I had done as much as I could in the Auld/Henderson hull that I had acquired from James Martin and I was very excited at the prospect of driving a GP boat”, he mentioned during a press conference held at the Montreal Molson Brewery.
The Verchères native has loved the feeling of speeding on water from a young age. After purchasing a small boat at only 12 years old, he rode around in sailboats and different leisure crafts. “It has always been water and nothing else for me”, he emphasizes.
Fan of poker runs, Bertrand Dulude was introduced to the sport by Mike Métivier at the 2010 Régates de Valleyfield and he immediately fell in love. “It took about 10 minutes and it was clear to me. I knew exactly what I wanted to do”, says the head of maintenance at Emballage Mitchell Lincoln, in Montreal.
Driver Stéphane Racine suffered an injury in 2011 and Dulude stepped in to replace him at the Régates de Saint-Félicien and never looked back. The project of racing in the Grand Prix class began to take shape in Detroit, last August. “Thanks to Dany Imbeault’s lobbying and my sponsors, it happened. Everyone got involved, including my crew”, he recalls, happily.
Even if he needs to complete about twelve races under restriction, Bertrand believes his team will be very competitive for their rookie year. He now counts on Dominic Maisonneuve to assemble his engine. “I was anxious to try to tame the beast throughout the first few heats”, he says.
Asked about the difference in speed between the Hydro 350 and Grand Prix classes, Bertrand Dulude is not worried. “In a straight line, it goes about 70 km/h faster. It’s the turns that get interesting”, he adds.
To read the article in the Journal Saint-François: http://www.journalsaint-francois.ca/sports/2016/5/12/assouvir-sa-passion-pour-la-vitesse-sur-l-eau.html [French version only]