by Denis Bourbonnais
The Leboeuf name has been intimately linked to the sport of motorcycling for over half a century. The patriarch, Jules “The Foot” Leboeuf, paved the way for the many aspiring racers in the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield area by piloting the “Boomerang” and “Zoomerang” boats in the 1970s and 1980s. This pioneer of motorized racing, now 88 years old, had previously driven outboard boats commonly called “galettes” in the 1960s.
His son Jean-Guy took over as a competitor in the 5-liter class, better known now as the Hydro 350 class with the advent of the Hydroplane Racing League (HRL). After more than three decades behind the wheel of a racer, the driver nicknamed “Gaga” passed the torch to his son Michael who became the designated driver of the “Zoomerang/Canadian Tire” H-155 in 2019. And the 3rd generation racer has answered the call well in his first season on the fastest sport on the water.
Mickael Leboeuf delivered excellent performances that earned him the title of top rookie after a talent-filled season among first-year HRL racers. The award is no small feat considering that the then 21 year old pilot had held his own in the Hydro 350, the most competitive hydroplane class in North America.
“I thought it was going to happen, I grew up in the world of régates,” said Mickael, who was particularly excited about his first starts at the Régates de Valleyfield in the summer of 2019. The Campivallensian came close to competing at the age of 14 aboard a 1.5-liter class hydroplane. However, technical problems during a capsule test delayed his entry into the world of hydroplanes. Six years later, following a breakthrough in ice car racing, Michael took the plunge into the family’s favorite sport.
His arrival on the motorsport scene is a source of pride for the Leboeuf’s, especially since the latest “Zoomerang” was built in 2012 by Jean-Guy at his shop on Sainte-Marie Boulevard in Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. While the old man runs the team’s operations as owner, his daughter Bianka Leboeuf is in charge of radio communications, and she guides her brother Mickael from shore during events.
The latest addition to the Leboeuf line is not the only one who has carried on the family legacy since the turn of the millennium. Michael is in fact the second third generation racer to occupy the cockpit of a boat within the family. Donald Leduc, son of Johanne Leboeuf and grandson of Jules, has been the author of multiple accomplishments in the world of regattas including 3 victories in a final at the Valleyfield Regatta (2012, 2013, 2015) as well as points championships (ACHA\HRL) in the 2.5-liter class.
For Jules Leboeuf’s family, Howie Benns’ triumph at the wheel of the boat “Leboeuf Transport” GP-1001 in the 1988 Grand Prix Final of the Golden Regatta remains one of the highlights of the racing history. After the achievements of Jules Leboeuf, Jean-Guy Leboeuf and Donald Leduc, will Michael be the next to shine when the action resumes in the Hydroplane Racing League?
“He is already a source of pride for his grandfather, who cried when he saw him fly for the first time at the 2019 Long Sault Regatta,” said Jean-Guy Leboeuf. One thing is for sure, the family will continue to take their place in the pit area at the Régates de Valleyfield and other HRL venues for years to come.
Photo credit: Rod Windover Photographer