As the UIM E1 World Championship Series gears up to kick off its first-ever electric boat racing season later this year, it has offered a Q&A with its cofounder and CEO Rodi Basso, who shares several progress updates. With at least eight teams expected to compete in season one, we are certain to see the series grow soon and now have a better idea of what continents the electric boats will be racing on in 2023.
If you haven’t heard of it yet, the UIM E1 World Championship is a nascent electric boat racing league created by Formula E and Extreme E founder, Alejandro Agag, and Rodi Basso – a former director of Motorsport at McLaren with a background in Formula 1 engineering.
We’ve been following this upcoming league’s progress since early last year when it began testing of the all-electric foiling boats its teams will be racing in, called RaceBirds. The E1 team has explained that its inaugural season will consist of 8 to 12 teams representing various cities and countries around the world, competing across 10 different marine tracks in various climates.
So far, we have three official E1 teams in place – Team Venice, Team Mexico owned by Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez, and the latest team to join – Team Spain, owned by Tennis legend Rafael Nadal. These big names bring attention to the budding racing league, but E1 is still five teams short of having an actual series.
According to E1’s cofounder, there are plenty of talks with big names going on and in order to remain sustainable, the electric boat racing league won’t travel around as much in its first season.
Inaugural E1 season will be racing in Europe and Middle East
In the league’s latest blog post, CEO Rodi Basso participates in an extensive interview, discussing everything from Rafa and Perez signing on, to the progress of the RaceBird electric boats, and plans for this coming season.
When speaking to the need for at least eight teams, Basso elaborated on the number of inquiries from potential owners, including names from sports, entertainment, motorsports, and even entrepreneurs – all looking to establish a team that represents a particular area or city. He went on:
Of course there’s a strategy behind the decision who to partner with, however, it’s our vision and mission first and foremost that is enabling us to attract high-profile sports personalities like Nadal and Perez. Having a clear purpose matters to people and our purpose is to accelerate electrification in the marine industry. Just like our electric cousins at Formula E and Extreme E have done in the automotive industry, we’re trying to do the same with recreation and leisure boats. Taking this approach with having recognisable team owners, it allows us to dramatically expand our reach and grow E1’s fanbase.
When asked about the progress of RaceBird development, Basso explained that everything remains on track for the start of the first E1 racing season. He went on to say that the boats themselves have already broken a top speed of 50 knots (57.5 mph), which was its original target.
That said, Basso said E1 is only planning to have one group of RaceBirds for season 1 and a second group of electric racing boats ready to join for season 2. Due to this fact, plus the league’s goal to limit its carbon footprint, E1 plans to compete across just two continents this year before expanding in its second season. Basso explains:
Given we’ll be shipping the RaceBirds and freight around the world to reduce our footprint, it restricts us to racing in two regions of the world in Season 1. The focus for the first season will be to host races in the Middle East and Europe, and then expanding out further to North America and Asia in Season 2. E1 is a World Championship and we’re getting a lot of interest from a number of cities. Some conversations are well advanced and we should be ready to publish the provisional calendar soon.
Another method of combating freight emissions is to establish hubs around the globe where the RaceBirds and their respective equipment can be stored. E1’s CEO says that’s the plan for future racing seasons, and hub conversations are already underway in Venice, Florida, and Asia – hinting to where we may see electric boat competitions in the future, at least in North America.
Lastly, Basso spoke to E1’s racing format, which is still expected to be a knockout competition in its first season. He explained that the championship series is also targeting a unique time of day to compete to attract as many spectators as possible:
We’re still keen on pursuing the knockout style format. Not only is it exciting, I think it naturally lends itself to the characteristics of racing on water. Head-to-head races and multiple sprint races will offer a continuous dose of adrenaline for fans locally or those following the action on TV. We’re also taking a similar path to Extreme E with teams having mixed gender pilots. This format means each pilot has plenty of time behind the wheel and each can contribute to the success of the team. Races will be in the late-afternoon and there will be more activities happening around the event into the evening. This will allow E1 to become more of a ‘city event’ that appeals to as many people as possible.
While we’ve gotten plenty of exciting updates about the first-ever E1 racing season, we still do not know when it will begin. Basso once again said “later this year,” adding that the series is targeting one race per month through to autumn next year. Ten races, ten months, well into 2024 – we’d wager the UIM E1 World Championship will begin season 1 pretty late into 2023.
Before then however, E1 has already inked a deal to race multiple electric boats as a launch event to season 1 during World Port Days in Rotterdam, Netherlands sometime this fall. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, check out supermodel Cara Delevingne experiencing a RaceBird up-close in Venice.
FTC: We use income earning auto affiliate links. More.