Dubai: Led by Sir Russell Coutts, some of the top names from the world of watersports have come together on a common platform for the world’s first electric powerboat championship that was launched earlier this week at the Monaco Yacht Club.
Backed by former Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup sailing legend Coutts, this new racing series has plans for a global competition on seas and lakes that will drive forward the electric revolution in the marine environment.
The ‘UIM E1 World Electric Powerboat Series’ is the brainchild of Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag, the founder of Formula E and Extreme E; Rodi Basso, former Director of Motorsport at McLaren, and Dr Raffaele Chiulli President of the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM).
Agag insisted that the time is right to bring the spectacular advances that have been made with electric power in motorsport to the marine environment. He hoped not only to establish a new sporting classic, but also to make a lasting contribution to improving the health of the seas and oceans.
“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 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,” Agag said.
“Right now the use of electric power on the water is still at an embryonic stage. 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.”
While Agag will be non-executive chairman of the new venture, Rodi 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 over the Chief Executive’s role.
The UIM E1 World Electric Powerboat Series features high-performance racing boats powered entirely by electric propulsion systems racing on short courses at prestigious city-based and stunning remote locations around the world. The futuristic RaceBird boats being developed for the Series incorporate hydrofoil technology, will be driven by single pilots and will be capable of achieving breathtaking speeds of up to 60 knots (more than 110kph).
The boats are being developed by SeaBird Technologies, a start-up based in the UK that will partner with other companies involved in high performance water vessels to produce a superfast and superlight, largely one-design race boat.
Designed by Sophi Horne, the boats and the concept will be developed in partnership with SailGP, a global racing league that features the world’s fastest sail racing backed by former Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup legend, Coutts. As part of the strategic partnership, SailGP will also provide support for event and logistics management.
“This is an incredibly exciting partnership that allows us to continue accelerating change toward a cleaner future. We are powered by nature, and SailGP and E1 share a similar sense of purpose to be leading examples of sustainable technology,” SailGP CEO Coutts noted.
Among Coutts’ achievements are a gold medal in the Finn Class at the 1984 Olympic Games while also winning the America’s Cup five times alongside other top notable achievements including a perfect 15-0 record as skipper/helmsman in America’s Cup racing history. He was CEO of the Oracle Team when it won the America’s Cup twice with 14 wins and 16 losses (2010, 2013 and 2017 each time with James Spithill as skipper/helmsman.
The plan of the new series 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 knockout races leading to a final which will produce one winner. An annual overall world champion will be decided by cumulative scores throughout the season.
The new Series has been exclusively licensed by the UIM, the international governing body of powerboating and Chiulli, the UIM president said the organisation enthusiastically supports a new event which aims to contribute to the preservation of the marine environment.
“The launch of this initiative signals the UIM’s ability to lead by example, and to take action to preserve a healthy marine environment, which is vital for the future of our planet. We are proud to partner with Alejandro Agag, Rodi Basso and E1, and I am confident that this initiative, alongside Extreme E, will accelerate sustainable mobility at global level,” Chiulli said.