World racing body UIM has thrown its weight behind E1, the world’s first all-electric one-design powerboat championship, which will be contested by 60-knot foilers.
These new super-light, super-fast, one-design hydrofoils promise to break new ground, not only technically, but also aesthetically. Only a teased rendering (above) has been released thus far, but initial promotional material suggests these electric boats will be capable of speeds of up to 60 knots (69mph).
Racing them will not simply be about speed and handling, however. Much will depend on the team’s ability to manage battery power. Although unlimited charging will be available for practice and qualifying sessions, charging for the actual short knock-out races — quarters, semis and finals – will be rationed.
The E1 single-seater is under development at SeaBird Technologies. This UK start-up is driven by Norwegian creative Sophi Horne, who is working in close association with E1 CEO Rodi Basso, who serves as her chief technology officer, and extreme foiling cat series SailGP, a similar sailboat racing initiative established in 2018 by America’s Cup stalwarts Larry Ellison, the US billionaire behind Oracle and various changing syndicates, and one of the world’s most successful racing yachtsmen, Russell Coutts.
The intention is for up to 12 teams to compete in E1, each of which must purchase two boats, one retained in Europe and used for all the races there and the other stored aboard the 344ft-LOA 6,767GT former-RMS St Helena, effectively a floating paddock for those boats destined for events beyond European waters. Ultimately at the close of each season there will be a winning team and an overall champion pilot.
The E1 calendar is expected to run in parallel with the Extreme E Series and include some of the most glamorous cities and exotic locations in the world. This new series is aimed primarily at existing powerboat racers, as well as those wanting to transition from other forms of terrestrial motorsport.
This new ‘sustainable technology’ race series has three key protagonists: Dr Raffaele Chiulli, the Italian currently serving as president of UIM, which is the governing body of powerboat racing; Spanish entrepreneur Alejandro Agag, who heads up the series as non-executive chairman; and E1’s CEO Basso.
The latter pair have considerable experience in motor racing. Agag is the man ultimately responsible for the now well-established Formula E Series, which began back in ’14, and most recently the new Extreme E Series, which is a similar concept one-design championship that will use specially developed E-SUVs.
Originally an aerospace engineer, Basso has worked with NASA, Ferrari, the Red Bull F1 team and more recently was Motorsport Business Director at McLaren.
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“I am delighted that we are able to announce this unique step forward in marine-based sport,” said Agag. “We believe this series will engage not only the sporting public, and boating and tech enthusiasts around the world, but also ocean conservationists who care about the future of our planet.
“The earth’s oceans, lakes and rivers are under huge environmental pressure and the E1 World Electric Powerboat Series will lead the way in electrifying water mobility for future generations.
“Right now the use of electric power on the water is still at an embryonic stage,” he added. “My ambition is for the E1 Series to accelerate the adoption of electric boats, to demonstrate how exciting they can be and to promote electric solutions and clean water mobility to marine travel worldwide.”