by Denis Bourbonnais
The Bull Shark is known for its asymmetrical jaws and aggressive nature, making it the most threatening of the sea specimens.
It is in allusion to this image that Karl St-Vincent named his racing team and the “Bull Shark Racing” has been racing on the circuit for the past ten years. The 41-year-old Campivallensian was introduced to hydroplane racing in 2011 when he shared the wheel of the 1.5-liter class “Plomberie Valleyfield” with Kevin Bellefleur. St-Vincent continued his journey in the 2.5 liter class for 4 years in the cockpit of the first “All-In” built by Dominic Billette before swapping the “Bull Shark” name to the Hydro 350 class when he took possession of Yannick Leger’s former “Super Nova” towards the end of the 2016 season.
While the performance of the “Bull Shark Racing” H-37 has not always met expectations since Karl’s arrival in the H-350, the local racer has made his mark with his intense riding and fighting nature. While the 2019 season has been more difficult due to technical and mechanical issues, St. Vincent has shown that he can compete with the top dogs in the competitive Hydro 350 class when the machine allows him to show off his talent.
“It was a year to forget in 2019. Several adjustments have been made to the boat and we have a new engine builder. The addition of some sponsors should help us get better results. We would like to make the finals and get a podium finish next season,” hopes the tinsmith and ventilation contractor.
Practice sessions are scheduled this week at the Larocque Bridge site and Karl is looking forward to getting back into the swing of things. “The first year of the forced break was beneficial as our team was able to regain its strength. We are now ready to get back into the swing of things. We have, among other things, propellers to test and if a demonstration was to be held in Beauharnois, we would be there”, promises Karl St-Vincent.
Preceded by his father at the régates
Like many other racers, Karl got the “bug” for régates by accompanying his father to the feeder pits at a very young age. In fact, he was 4 years old when his father, Richard St-Vincent, purchased Laurent Métivier’s “Miss Laupie” CS-43 in 1983 to join the ranks of the 2.5 liter class.
Initially a driver-owner, Richard then gravitated towards the sport of motorcycling for many years as an inspector and official at various levels. The father returned to hydroplane racing to become the sole owner of the Bull Shark Racing H-37, whose latest paint scheme has drawn a chorus of praise.
As for the son, it was as he saw his 30s approaching that he resolved to make the jump into the racing camp. “I was attending the Régates de Valleyfield with my friends on a private course on du Havre Boulevard and the temptation was growing. A door was opened when Mathieu Lemelin offered me to join his team in 2009. If I didn’t go at that time, I might have missed it”, says Karl St-Vincent, who joined forces with “Lemelin Racing” in 2009, 2010 and 2012. Following his initial season as a driver in 2011, he returned in 2013 to never again relinquish the driving of “Bull Shark Racing” in the Hydroplane Racing League (ACHA/HRL).
The upcoming campaign will be the 4th for St-Vincent at the helm of the H-350 boat that was originally a Bergeron “kit” that Marc Lecompte and Norm Shannon had assembled to form the “Unipro”, which would later become Sylvain Campeau’s first “Miss Dinomytes”.
Karl will again be able to rely on his team leader, Marc Leduc, an ally of “Bull Shark Racing” since the very beginning. Finally, the St-Vincent’s family commitment to the sport of regattas will take on another dimension when activities resume as Karl’s sister Valérie will support her life partner, Danny Léger, in the adventure of the “Charpentek” H-666 of the Hydro 350 class, Jonathan Daoust’s former “Water Ghost” H-15.
Photo credit: Rod Windover Photographer