It snowed on August 27 at Mont-Vallin. My right thumb is seriously starting to itch.
In the meantime! On September 5, in Frampton, Beauce, was held the only event of the season for the CMEQ, Circuit Motoneiges sur l’Eau du Québec (Quebec Snowmobiles on Water Circuit).
Emotions filled the air! Riders, held back due to the Covid status quo, were itching to get out there. Friends and families, who had not seen each other since the 2019 season, were delighted to meet up again. Spectators in need of thrills and organizers who had the energy to spare, were all ready for this long awaited event! Let’s face it; the Quebec snowmobile water-racing community is very tightly woven.
This camaraderie, that I witnessed throughout the day, really left quite an impression on me. The mutual aid between the riders, the interactions between their families and friends, the smiles, the real pleasure and the passion that could be read on all the faces I came across. In no other sport have I seen so much fraternity before!
When I arrived at the site at 9 o’clock, it was already buzzing; qualifications were underway. The day before, the riders were able to try out their machines. I was greeted by André Fortier, President of the CMEQ, who was somewhat disconcertingly calm. “This is my 32nd season,” he tells me with his best smile.
André Fortier and his extraordinary rescue team!
The departures for the qualifications take place one after the other. The riders and their team are busy. So are the organizers. This is my first time attending snowmobile racing on the water, and honestly, I am impressed. I didn’t expect so much intensity, and I’m delighted!
A fullfiled collaborator
I took photos, videos and talked with a lot of nice people. The power of the machines at the start is disconcerting. “Acceleration is comparable to a start in F1,” says René Guillemette, a snowmobile water-racing pioneer. Upon touching the water, the snowmobile will tilt vertically, and once the “flotation” speed is reached, the machine will drop back down slightly to continue its race.
With the straight-line “acceleration” under control, the “oval” with its bends is the next level to be attained. The “jumps” are reserved for riders who have mastered the two previous disciplines. It’s quite something; you have to find the right balance!
Nicolas Matte #117
Michaël Bisson #96
Steve Cournoyer #98
To summarize the program :
Drag: 600 – 700 – 800 CC, stock and modified;
Oval: 600 – 700 – 800 CC, stock and modified, Open and semi-pro, 700 – 800CC;
Some riders, like one of the favourites # 117 Nicolas Matte, are registered in the maximum possible number of classes, five classes, the Open and the Jump, for a total of 7 starts; you have to be in good shape. The physical effort is continuous, and the riders who take part in so many classes will confirm it!
Maxime Simard #810
Simon-Olivier Lesage #181 and Stéphane Nadeau #196
Cyril Faucher #104 – Winner in the Jumping category
With such a busy program in a single day, the starts have to take place one right after another, and that’s exactly what happens with Samuel Boucher, Race Director, who does an exceptional job.
Samuel Boucher, once the event was over. A well-deserved reward!
A lunch break is taken and a race meeting is held so that the riders are informed of the final details. Followed by a minute’s silence for François Croteau, a rider living in Wotton, who left too quickly. At 25 years old, he died in a tragic motorcycle accident on August 14. His friends, as well as his spouse and accomplice, Magali Brousseau, did a final lap to pay him a vibrant tribute. The snowmobile community on the water is tightly woven.
Magali Brosseau, François Croteau’s spouse
The races go by at a hell of a pace. The starts are impressive, as is the agility of the riders once on the water. There’s no margin for error; one too tight turn or hitting a wave at the wrong angle, and it’s over, the snowmobile sinks. Some riders even collided; water and snow are totally different. Not only on the driving side but on the mechanics as well! An article will be published soon on mechanical modifications for on-water driving; stay tuned!
There’s a lot of action, it’s far from being calm!
Unique custom-made rescue pontoon, made by André Fortier himself!
Also in attendance are racers from the Ontario Watercross Racing Association, OWRA; President Jason Bidan #926 and Muskoka’s Jeff Kauffman #190. Besides having a very nice haircut, the 34-year-old rider put his name on several podiums during the day! Snowmobile events on the water in Quebec and Ontario intersect during the season, and some races are also held in the United States … when the borders are open. Another fine example of fraternity in the community.
Jason Bidan #926
Jeff Kauffman #190
And … it’s MY turn!
“It’s a pleasure to lend my machine to share my passion. I’m lucky, and it’s important for me to be able to offer this experience to people.” In addition to lending me his machine, René Guillemette gives me a crash course.
“Put your feet shoulder-width apart. Left foot in front. Get yourself close to the handles. Hold them tight; it rips. 6 inches before the water, “snap” the throttle to the max. When the sled goes down, you can release the gas a little. You have to go at least 35 km/h to float. If it seems to want to sink, let go and “re-snap” the gas to the max. If it still sinks, it’s over; pull the kill switch, it’s game over.”
Driving crash course
It’s a start…
It was short, but very intense!!!
I confirm that in spite of the short distance I covered, IT’S INSANE!!!!!! When do we do it again? I’m open to all sponsorship. In short, a memorable day; to relive absolutely!
***Don’t forget; read the additional related articles on snowmobiling on water and… See you soon!
Mélanie Anabelle Massé,