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by Denis Bourbonnais

More than two years after acquiring Yannick Léger’s “Super Nova” H-21, François Leroux will finally be able to experience his baptism as a hydroplane pilot at the Régates de Beauharnois on September 18 and 19.

At the conclusion of the 2019 season, the Campivallensian of origin took possession of Claude Bergeron’s former “Special Edition”, the last Hydro 350 class boat built by the manufacturer, to realize a childhood dream. Little did François Leroux know at the time that a pandemic would force the cancellation of the next two campaigns in the Hydroplane Racing League (HRL).

“Our team is really looking forward to this adventure,” said the Sherbrooke resident, who has chosen the name “Miss OMG” for “Oh My God” and number 447, “We’ve been thinking about it for two years and preparing for this moment,” added the 53-year-old rookie, who was once a fan of the “Miss Danash” and had his boat painted in colors similar to those of the Grand Prix hydroplane that Jean Théorêt drove in the 1980s.

François Leroux conducted the first test drives of the “H-447” in October 2020 at the Larocque Bridge site. Having recently taken delivery of a new “Primeau Performance” engine, he anticipates returning to the waters of the Beauharnois Canal soon to test the machine before the event at Bourcier Park in mid-September.

For the carpenter by trade, patience will have been rewarded especially since he will be surrounded by his family and friends during this great premiere. His wife Brigitte Payeur as well as his sons Mathieu (22 years old), Xavier (12 years old) and Félix (10 years old) will be part of the team while Benoit Taillefer will act as stable manager and Pierre Maheu will be in charge of radio communications. Jean-François Bernier is the assistant team leader while Pierre Hurteau, Paul Blanchette, Kevin Messier and Maxime Leroux, François’ cousin, complete the team.

Contrary to what was announced earlier this year, François Leroux will not be sharing the wheel of the “Miss OMG” with Benoit Toupin at the Régates de Beauharnois. “In the end, Benoit could not be at the Beauharnois event but the door is open for a possible partnership”, said the owner of “H-447”.

François Leroux appreciated the support shown to him by visitors during the event organized at Delpha-Sauvé Park in mid-July during the weekend when the 2021 Régates de Valleyfield would normally be presented.

“Regatta fans should have a good show in Beauharnois. Most of the Quebec and Ontario teams will be racing as well as some American competitors. We will be there… we have been waiting for this first weekend of racing for a long time,” said François Leroux.

Photo credit: Facebook page of François Leroux

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