By Denis Bourbonnais
Samuel Tremblay will embark, at only 23 years old, on his 7th season on the powerboating circuit once racing picks back up on the Hydroplane Racing League.
After 5 seasons at the helm of a hydroplane in 1.5-litre (2) and 2.5-litre (3), the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield driver went over to the “Jersey Speed Skiff” class in 2019, as he inherited the boat of his late godfather, Denis Côté.
As it was the case for his first races in JSS, Samuel will be joined next season in the “Denis’ Dream” JS-48 by his brother Michael Tremblay, whose career highlights will be detailed in another article from this series.
Samuel Tremblay was compelled by his godfather Denis Côté’s wish, who passed away suddenly on May 15, 2018, a few weeks before the Régates de Valleyfield. The former teammate of Jean Théorêt’s “Lotto Super 7” team was supposed to be part of the competition on the St. François Bay for the 80th edition of the event, but he could not make his dream come true. In his will, Denis Côté had a heritage for his godson.
“We had no choice but to do it. We had to do it for Denis,” mentioned Samuel, who realizes that driving a “Jersey Speed Skiff” is a challenge in itself. For a competitor who started behind the wheel of a hydroplane, it is like starting from the bottom.
“I was told to forget everything I had learned. The boat’s handling is opposite. Instead of gliding on the water, you bounce. There’s no fin in the front, you have to maneuver with stabilizers located at the back of the boat. When you turn, your foot has to stay on the accelerator,” describes Samuel Tremblay.
The learning will therefore continue in 2021 for the Tremblays, who are aiming for a better spot in the overall ranking, following a 5th place in 2019. “We made modifications to improve the behaviour of the boat, in addition to dyno (dynamometer) testing for the engine. We want to be a bigger threat to the favourites,” explains Samuel, the 4th of 5 boys in the Tremblay family.
A family passion
Hydroplanes are an everyday subject for the Tremblay and Brossoit families. As part of the “Denis’ Dream” JS-48 team, there is Samuel’s father, Claude Tremblay, crew chief, his mother, Johanne Brossoit, sister of the late Daniel Brossoit, his grandfather, Germain Brossoit, and his brothers, Benjamin, 27 years old, and Micheal, 25 years old.
Benoit Tremblay, 30 years old, who was a member of the GP-79 team of Michael Grendell last season could join the group, along with Daniel, 22 years old, who once teamed with Eric Langevin (GP-12) and Mathieu Daoust (GP-9) in Grand Prix. To complete the family collaboration, the cousin, Alexandre De Roy, son of ex-driver Bruno De Roy and Sylvie Brossoit, manufactured the “JS-48” trailer, in addition to landing a hand to the team.
Insisting on the fact that the adaptation is harder on a concave bottom boat like a JSS, Samuel Tremblay can count on the racing experience of his brother Michael, who acts as the rider, to help him deal with the unpredictability of this type of boat. “Michael often notices things we need to correct, and he is an asset to have in the boat with me,” says Samuel, a mechanic by trade.
Questioned on the brilliant victory of his brother Michael in the last final held in Hydro 350, at the Régates de Beauharnois in September of 2019, aboard the “Last minute again” H-8 of Bill Vielhauer, Samuel speaks of the beneficial impact it had on the Tremblay family.
“It was good for morale. We had a reputation of winners, the Tremblays, in karting and, for a certain amount of time, in hydroplane racing. Before Michael’s victory, it was a little tough. We now hope that things will turn in our favour,” mentions Samuel Tremblay.