The UIM E1 World Electric Powerboat Series, the world’s first electric powerboat championship has been officially launched at the Monaco Yacht Club with plans for a global series on seas and lakes that will drive forward the electric revolution in the marine environment.
The groundbreaking series is the brainchild of Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag, the founder of Formula E and Extreme E, Dr Raffaele Chiulli President of the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) and Rodi Basso, former Director of Motorsport at McLaren.
Basso says the series, which will be associated closely with Extreme E, will develop on a tight timescale with an intense testing and build schedule and feature new high-performance Racebird racing boats powered entirely by electric propulsion systems racing on short courses at prestigious city-bases and remote locations around the world.
The futuristic RaceBird boats being developed for the series will incorporate hydrofoil technology, driven by single pilots and will be capable of achieving speeds of up to 60 knots – 111 km/hr or 69 mph.
SeaBird Technologies, a start-up based in the UK, will be developing the boats and will partner with other companies involved in high performance water vessels to produce a super-fast and superlight, largely one-design race boat. Designed by Sophi Horne the radical concept will be developed in partnership with SailGP, a global racing league that features the world’s fastest sail racing. As part of the strategic partnership, SailGP will also provide support for event and logistics management.
While Formula E and Extreme E founder Agag will be non-executive chairman of the new venture, Basso, an Italian former aerospace engineer who has worked with NASA, Ferrari and Red Bull in Formula 1, and Magneti Marelli and McLaren Applied Technologies in the high tech industry, will take the Chief Executive role.
Basso and Agag got together to brainstorm the new idea in London during lockdown. “The sea for me is something very important as an expression of nature and somewhere I always go to re-charge my batteries, so this project is the perfect way to celebrate that,” said Basso who is also a passionate sailor.
“During 20 years of competition in motor racing I have always dreamt of using motorsport to demonstrate and gain visibility around a technology and then build solutions with it in other fields. With this championship we are going to accelerate the take-up of electric technology in the marine industry by bringing the huge technological advances and expertise from motor racing. We are going to produce a thrilling and exciting sporting spectacle that will appeal to millions of fans worldwide,” he added.
The plan is to attract up to 12 teams which will each purchase two boats, one based in Europe and one that will be stored on the St Helena, a refurbished former Royal Mail Ship that the Series will use as a “floating paddock” for races outside Europe.
The pilots for the inaugural E1 Series are expected to come from a range of backgrounds with some from existing powerboating championships and others making a transition from road vehicle electric technology to the water. Each E1 race weekend will comprise testing and qualifying and then a series of knock-out races leading to a final which will produce one winner. An annual overall world champion will be decided by cumulative scores throughout the season.
Success on the racecourse will depend not just on speed in varying conditions but on a pilot’s ability to preserve energy, with unlimited charging allowed for testing and qualifying each weekend, but a finite supply for the quarter-finals, semi-finals and final.
E1 will race in remote locations in parallel with Extreme E and also in some of the most glamorous cities in the world. Fans can look forward to experiencing incredible landscapes and striking urban waterfronts as they follow the broadcast of the series around the world.
The new series has been exclusively licensed by the UIM, the international governing body of powerboating. Its President, Dr Raffaele Chiulli, who is also President of GAISF the Gloabal Association of all International Sport Federations, said the organisation enthusiastically supports a new event which aims to contribute to the preservation of the marine environment.