The First Electric Boat Racing Championship Will Feature a Futuristic Boat Design

The UIM E1 World Electric Powerboat Series is set to take place worldwide in 2022.

Conceptual design of electric RaceBird boat. (Photo courtesy of Seabird Technologies.)

Conceptual design of electric RaceBird boat. (Photo courtesy of Seabird Technologies.)

Last September 25, Formula E Chairman Alejandro Agag and former Director of Motorsport at McLaren Rodi Basso announced at the Monaco Yacht Club their plans to launch the world’s first electric powerboat championship. The goal of the UIM E1 World Electric Powerboat Series is to encourage the use of electric vehicles on seas and lakes to promote the protection of marine environments. The competition is slated to be held in 2022 and will take place in particular locations that are explicitly under threat from global warming. According to Agag, it will be an extension of the existing Extreme E racing series.

Extreme E is an off-road electric SUV car racing series that aims to bring awareness to the impact of climate change. Agag, who is also the CEO of Extreme E, shared that the goal of these ventures is to eventually “electrify mobility.” With E1, they’re hoping to meet the same brand of success.

“I think that by electrifying water mobility we can make a contribution to have cleaner seas, cleaner lakes, cleaner rivers. That’s our objective, and the biggest reward. We want to have a cleaner world that is more sustainable,” shared Agag. “The future will be to continue expanding and to improve the technology of electric boats. Also—to change perception to make electric boats more common, and have people adopt them more massively.”

The races will be held in city venues with waterfronts that will include charging stations that will be retained after the races for use by local electric boat owners. Agag is currently eyeing Monaco, Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Geneva, Zurich, and London, along with some even more ambitious locations such as the Amazon and the Red Sea. The Prince of Monaco, Albert II, has already agreed to host the race.

To attract spectators, the duo is already working on an electric racing boat prototype called the “RaceBird,” which will feature a futuristic design. The conceptual designs were prepared by Sophi Horne, a Norwegian naval designer, through her company SeaBird Technologies. Horne shared that the designs were primarily inspired by nature, particularly birds. The highlight of the designs are the hydrofoils, which are wing-like components situated underneath the boat hull. This is the segment of the boat that gives it its hydrodynamic lift, allowing the boat to move through air instead of water. Travel efficiency can increase by up to 90 percent thanks to less frictional resistance with air. The challenge, according to Horne, was to ensure that this lightweight boat wouldn’t tip over.

“This boat has only one section. That’s challenging,” she explained. “The boat will be very light, so we have to make sure it’s not going to take off at high speeds and even flip backwards. It all comes back to the control system, and balance.”

Conceptual design of electric RaceBird boat. (Photo courtesy of SeaBird Technologies.)

Conceptual design of electric RaceBird boat. (Photo courtesy of SeaBird Technologies.)

The boat will be approximately 16 feet (4.9 meters) long and will be built from 100 percent carbon fiber. It’s designed to be large enough for just one pilot as well as a 30-kWh battery. This will allow the boat to travel at speeds of up to 60 knots (about 111 km/hr) for 20 minutes. This is enough power to get the boat through the 15-minute races. The team is currently working with Norwegian companies CeWave and SailGP to turn the designs into the real thing. They’re aiming to produce a working prototype by June 21, 2021. Cruisers designed for families will also be designed for commercial use.

Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) will also be a partner in the event series, and has already expressed its enthusiasm in promoting environmental awareness.

Basso, who is also a former NASA aerospace engineer and currently the CEO of E1, has shared that the competition will also have larger commercial implications later on. They’re hoping that the races will raise awareness of the electrification of ports in major seaside cities.

“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,” said Basso.

For more news and stories, check out the case for electric planes here.