The drivers from Quebec could not find their way to the top of the podium, as three racers from Ontario and one American led the finals in their respective classes during one of the biggest hydroplane racing event in North America.
Brothers Bert and Kent Henderson, from Brockville (Ontario) had a memorable day, taking the final heats in the Grand Prix and Hydro 350 classes. Alexis Weber, from Detroit (Michigan) won the 2.5 litre, while Rob Stevenson, from Roseneath (Ontario), was crowned champion of the Formula 2500 category.
Bert Henderson dominated in the Grand Prix class, leading the GP-777 Steeler to a decisive win in the final. The Hydroplane Racing League’s (HRL) defending champion won a third final in as many races this season and visited the winners’ dock for the third time in his career at the Régates de Valleyfield.
Tom Pakradooni, from Pennsylvania finished in 2nd place aboard the GP-88 Rolling Thunder. Pierre Maheu, from Saint-Michel-de-Napierville, was the only Quebecker to step on the podium in this class, taking the 3rd place with the GP-50 Intensity. Marty Wolfe (GP-93), Éric Langevin (GP-12) and Tom Thompson (GP-525) followed. One of the favorites, Andrew Tate (GP-101), committed an error before the start and then had to forfeit the rest of the race.
Kent Henderson was the winner of the competitive Hydro 350 class, with over 25 registered boats. The driver from Ontario was far ahead in the H-777 Team Toban when the race was stopped because of a collision between Sylvain Dorais (H-32) and Nicolas Rousse (H-225). Since more than half of the race was completed at the time, Henderson was declared winner after 3 of the 5 laps.
Derec Smith (H-13), from Ogdensburg (NY) finished 2nd, 3 seconds behind the leader, followed by Donny Allen Jr. (H-14), from Hoshkosh (Wisconsin), Yannick Léger (H-21), from Valleyfield, and Jonathan Daoust (H-15), from Saint-Polycarpe.
The Ontarian Rob Stevenson (F-10) had to fight off a persistent Donald Leduc (F-1) to take a 2nd victory in 3 years in Valleyfield. The driver from Salaberry-de-Valleyfield came 61 hundredth of a second from taking the win from his opponent.
Douglas Rapp (F-79), Bobby King (F-79), Leah Hoosick (F-27), Howard Schnabolk (F-80), Tom Huganir (F-69) and Guillaume Charette round up that final. The latter one was penalized for crossing the starting line too early, while Huganir hooked while he was in first place.
Alexis Weber ended a lucrative weekend in the 2.5 litre class with a 3rd victory in 4 starts with the S-55 My Way and made one of her dreams come true by being crowned champion at the Régates de Valleyfield. Two local drivers, Eric McKenna (S-999) and Claude Abbott (S-67), completed the podium, followed by Tommy Shannon (S-4) and Kevin Smith (S-26). Samuel Tremblay (S-5), Philippe Billette (S-7) and Sébastien Leduc (S-100) were all penalized.
At the winners’ dock, in front of bleachers filled with supporters, each champion held a similar discourse: “The best hydroplane racing fans in the world are in Valleyfield.”
A look back on the event
124,000 people attended the SAQ series of concerts and the three days of races. The Delpha-Sauvé Park was particularly filled on Saturday, as 17,000 spectators came out to see Éric Lapointe and the traditional fireworks.
“We are very pleased with the results. All the efforts we put into the promotional aspect paid off and we will keep on improving the event”, said the General Manager of the Régates de Valleyfield, Michel Poirier.