Following Sunday’s tragic death of well-respected Canadian hydroplane driver Mathieu Daoust of Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec, the Hydroplane Racing League expressed with great sadness its most sincere condolences to the family and friends of the driver, to whom it will continue to provide support.
The hydroplane racing community lost a great one in veteran driver Mathieu Daoust on Sunday. Photo courtesy Marc-André Rhéaume (click image to enlarge). A GoFundMe account has been created for Daoust’s family, click here to donate.
The accident, which took place during a qualifying event in Brockville, Ontario, at the 1000 Islands Regatta, happened just seconds into a Grand Prix heat race as Daoust’s GP-9 hydroplane collided with another boat on the St. Lawrence River off Centeen Park.
“This is a great loss for the entire hydroplane family,” the HRL statement read. “In order to respect the family and organization’s privacy, we will not comment further. More details will be communicated in the coming days.”
Putting an end to the day’s racing festivities, the tragedy—the first HRL driver death since the Valleyfield Regatta in 1991 when Daniel Brossoit spun out in front of Jimmy King, who struck the boat, which ended up killing Brossoit, then King’s boat flew into the spectator wharf, killing one spectator and injuring four others, and the first death in the sport since the Unlimited hydroplane series lost driver George Stratton when his boat flipped during a test session at Southern California’s San Diego Bayfair in 2000)—has hit the hydroplane racing community hard.
“A good friend, a great champion and wonderful family—it’s hard to find the words to pay tribute to my fellow racer and his family,” said Tyler Kaddatz, who competed in the F 2500 class and was one of the organizers behind last weekend’s event. “It’s still hard to believe what happened; I don’t want to believe it.
“Mathieu was so happy to have received his new suit and was so excited for his opportunity to take the Brockville Championship belt back to Valleyfield with him,” continued Kaddatz, the owner of TK Kustoms, a go-to apparel company for many hydroplane racers as well as poker run enthusiasts and offshore racers. “I can say he will take the championship back to Valleyfield. I just wish I could see him celebrate it like the champion he is. Godspeed Mathieu. We will miss you my friend and we’ll be praying for Jessica, Béatrice, Raphaël and the rest of his family.”
Daoust, a 31-year-old father of two young children (above), was in his sixth season behind the wheel of the GP-9 hydroplane. Mark Noonan, deputy chief for the Brockville Police Service, told Radio-Canada there were no other injuries and the crash appeared to be an accident.
Daoust was in his sixth season racing in the Hydroplane Racing League’s Grand Prix class.
Steve Armstrong, a fellow competitor and one of the event’s organizers, said that there “was an immediate cancellation of the event in a sign of respect (to Daoust).” Armstrong paid tribute to Daoust, calling him a family man who shared a devotion to the sport that won him respect and admiration from fans and fellow competitors.
Regatta organizers said the decision to cancel the races was easy. On the other hand, there was a national-level act scheduled to perform a concert in the evening so the festival continued on as planned.
According to Kaddatz, the Northern Pikes paid tribute to Daoust on stage, dedicating two songs to the late racer.
“As in all forms of racing, we are all a family in the pits—we all camp together and we all travel together,” Kaddatz said. “We race hard during the day, but we are friends throughout. In a touching move that many racers acknowledged on their way out of town on Sunday night and Monday morning, Jason Baker, the mayor of Brockville, immediately directed the city to fly the flags at half-staff.”
Kaddatz said competitors are planning to honor Daoust by adding a decal to their vessels featuring the GP-9 identification number that adorned his Miss Cleopatre hydroplane. Also, a GoFundMe account has been created for Daoust’s family, click here to donate.