Formula E and Extreme E founder Alejandro Agag is taking the electric racing concept to the water with the launch of the the world’s first electric powerboat championship.
Together with Rodi Basso, former Director of Motorsport at McLaren, and Dr Raffaele Chiulli, President of the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM), Agag unveiled the UIM E1 World Electric Powerboat Series in Monaco on Friday.
“I am delighted that we are today able to announce this unique step forward in marine-based sport,” he said. “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. 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, 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 says the series, which will be associated closely with Extreme E, will develop on a tight timescale with an intense testing and build schedule for the new boats.
The UIM E1 World Electric Powerboat Series features high-performance racing boats powered entirely by electric propulsion systems racing on short courses at city-based and 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 speeds of up to 60 knots, or 69 mph.
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 super-fast and superlight, largely one-design race boat.
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.