Boat Owners: Hal & Helena LeDuc
Boat Name: Opechee
“Opechee” was co-designed by Rich Hallett and Rob Kaufman and built by Rich Hallett of Long Beach California in 1968 for Rob Kaufman of Salem, Ohio. The Sponsons were copied from Paul Sawyer’s world famous “Alter Ego” but were lengthened for this 19’6 Hallett Hull. As Rob Kaufman’s “Can’t Wait” she competed in both the 26 CU. IN. Class, and with a gear change as a small seven litre. She is believed to be the last conventional hydro built b Rich Hallett before the change to cab-over designs where the driver sits in front of the engine.
Her original engine was a 265 CU. IN. Chevy V8 with an Isky Cam, Vertex Magneto, and a moon manifold with four weber 48mm twin throat carburetor. She ran with a casale 1;17 to 1 ratio z drive gear box, and a 12’ by 20&1/2’ cary 2 blade prop.
Her current engine is a 350 CU. IN. Chevy small block bored to 360 CU. IN. with a modest build up including an aggressive cam, WWI end alum. stealth intake manifold, and a Holley 650 CFM four barrel carb, with a mechanical double pumper. We are 2 10 to 1 comp. ration and 2 375 HP.
In 1969; “Can’t Wait,” with Max Saylor driving, qualified for the finals at the “Nationals in Morgan City, Louisiana.
1969 “Can’t Wait” won four races at the Miami Marine stadium.
1969 “Can’t Wait” won both 266 CU in heats and placed second in the grand prix event in Stauart, Florida.
1970 “Can’t Wait” won her race at the Orange Bowl Regatta.
We found the boat in Aplena, Michigan in the fall of 1992 where someone in the construction business had taken the boat in trade for money owed.
We replaced seven deck frames, the entire left sponson, and gave her a new deck of wild grain sepele mahogany. “Opechee’ has just been restored again by the well known Steve Balcher of “Balcher Boats” of Bay City, Michigan. “Opechee” now runs with a bright varnished mahogany deck, ivory cowlings 7 tail fin trimmed in mid-night blue and gold accents. Her tail fin sports the proud profile of an Indian Chief in full head dress.
I met my beautiful wife, Helena, in Laconia, New Hampshire where we spent special time together sailing on Lake “Opechee.” “Opechee” is an Indian name meaning “beautiful bird in flight,” which we agreed was appropriate.