Bertrand Dulude acquires a front runner.

Hydro350 class keeps expanding

Bertrand Dulude acquires a front runner.

Denis Bourbonnais – Journal St-François

In recent years many top US hydroplanes have come to Quebec, especially in the Suroît region.

Last week, Bertrand Dulude, a driver from the municipality of Les Coteaux, acquired Jim Martin’s E-43 Keen’s Machine and will join the ranks of the Hydro350 class in 2012. This is the boat with which Patrick Haworth triumphed at the Valleyfield Regatta in 2001 under the banner CE-00.

The Henderson hull was redone and remains one of the most competitive on the circuit. James Martin, of Norfolk, Virginia, won the world championship in 2004 at the wheel of this 5 Liter hydroplane and he had 17 wins the following year to finish 2nd place in American Power Boat Association (APBA) championship.

The new owner was looking to buy a quality boat after taking possession of the Fat Chance II of Bud McKay from Seattle, in July. “I wanted an upgrade from the boat that belonged to Tom English (E-75) from 1996 to 2003. That boat is made of aluminum and is too heavy. Instead of putting time and money to improve it, I turned to a model already more efficient,” said Bertrand Dulude, who already has a buyer for the Zero Gravity CE-48, who’s time with us has been brief.

The 33 years old driver believes he got hold of one of the best boats available. “The hull is in good condition and Bert Henderson highly recommended it to me. Apart from some minor changes, the boat is ready to run,” says Dulude who works as chief mechanic at Induscorr in Vaudreuil-Dorion.

Bertrand Dulude has no doubt that his new boat is strong enough to accommodate the 350 cubic inch engine that will be assembled. It will retain the number 48 below the call letter H for the Hydro350 class and the new team could be named after a sponsor who is in discussions with the independent owner.

With only four weekends driving a hydroplane, Bertrand Dulude made his debut in the cockpit of the H-44 Napa Racing of Stéphane Racine at the Saint-Félicien Regatta in July. He also drove in Beauharnois, Webster, MA, and Geneva, NY.

The Valleyfield Regatta Director, Michel Poirier, did not hide his satisfaction that a local competitor added a high-level boat to the fleet of the Canadian Hydroplane Association (ACHA). “We were less comfortable with the acquisition made by Bertrand last summer but he told us of his intentions to buy another boat. Bertrand looked at the available options in the United States and his choice was an excellent boat. He has done his homework,” endorsed Michel Poirier.