How E1 Series is bringing motorsport to the water

Electric powerboat championship E1 Series combines motorsport and powerboat racing to create a brand-new kind of championship. BlackBook Motorsport speaks to Rodi Basso, the series' chief executive, to learn more.

Combining motorsport, sailing and powerboating, E1 Series is the electric answer to powerboat racing.

The series has set out to demonstrate that electric racing can provide the same excitement as traditional petrol engine racing whilst driving the
electrification of the marine industry. E1’s plans include travelling to significant port cities across the world, educating fans and local officials about
the importance of electric boats and leaving behind infrastructure that its host destinations can benefit from.

E1’s co-founder and chief executive, Rodi Basso, wants to replicate the quiet nature of sailing whilst leading the technology drive to electrify the
marine industry. Indeed, sport has been hailed as one of the most powerful ways to promote real-world change, as competition leads to innovation.

“I am very passionate about the waters, the sea, the ocean,” says Basso. “I am passionate about sailing with a specific focus on the moment when you are outside the harbour and you switch off the engine and the wind takes you forward.

“I believe that is an incredibly exciting moment of sailing. I was wondering how I could bring the same experience onto a faster boat.”

As with many other electric racing series, E1 is driven by a desire to promote more sustainable practices. Sport is currently undergoing a transformation to encourage its followers to protect the environment, with motorsport series such as the eSkootr Championship and Extreme
E aiming to eliminate their carbon footprint. These efforts can also be seen within the marine industry.

“The marine industry is going to go through a bit of a shockwave and it will have to speed up the electrification process, trying to find ways of being more sustainable while moving on water,” explains Basso.

Even though the racing has not started yet, E1 has already established a rapport with several possible host cities, while also building out an event offering that will comprise more than just the racing. Basso reveals that concerts and spaces for education are just some of the things being considered for E1’s itinerary.

I think success will be when people understand how exciting the sport is, either on site or on TV or digitally. Building a kind of new sport entertainment with that definition.

“It is very important for us to build an exciting city event around the sport,” says Basso. “The city event will offer many opportunities – showcase technology, a festival of technologies.”

In addition to showcasing the best of electric boating technology, E1 will also develop a legacy programme, helping to introduce and establish infrastructure to support the electrification of boats locally. The series is planning to allow the cities to keep the chargers that will be installed for each event.

“We can offer the cities to keep the chargers onsite, in the ports,” says Basso. “This way, people will start to think, ‘I can get a tender or a leisure boat that is fully electric because the infrastructure is already there.’

“This is a very simple lesson we have learnt from the automotive and motorsport sectors and this is something we will take with us and offer to cities.”

Aiming to race in locations such as Monaco, E1 Series will offer fast-charging solutions at its events

To cut down on emissions, E1 is currently working on providing fast charging solutions for its events. The series also wants to demonstrate to city officials and fans the potential of electric boats.

“We are discussing many solutions, which range from energy storage to potentially fuel cells,” says Basso. “Anything that is related to an energy generation that has to be as clean as possible.

“I reckon this is really a very important element in showcasing that you can charge and use an electric boat. The market is already starting to pick up. I believe we can introduce this continuity into the roadmap of this area.”

E1 has also attracted sponsors linked to the luxury and technology sectors. The series wants to work with commercial partners who will share its drive to promote the electrification of the marine industry, rather than just supporting the series as a branding exercise.

“We are already in talks with two big brands interested in sponsoring the technology but not only as a ‘sticker’,” explains Basso. “They will contribute to the technology and acceleration of the electrification process.”

It is clear that E1 has taken inspiration from electric motorsport for its electrification and sustainability goals. However, the series also wants to play its own role in inspiring and driving change in the automotive and motorsport sectors, supporting the overall push for more sustainable sport.

“The motorsport industry will definitely benefit from what we learn in the marine industry and vice versa, as we are doing now,” says Basso.

As E1 establishes itself and begins to develop, Basso adds that it wants to collaborate with other stakeholders in the marine and automotive industries to drive positive change and collaborate on electrification processes.

“I want to speak to these chief executives and then focus the technology around that area of the powerboat,” says Basso.

“I would not like to come with an assertive suggestion, I would like to listen to the needs from the technology groups so we will gather up even more focus and attention for the years to come.”

Looking ahead, E1 is aiming to sign up 12 teams from around the world, bringing experience from powerboats, sailing and motorsport. The series’
other plans include building the necessary level of excitement around the racing that will encourage people to watch its events in person.

“It will be a great success if we can have our 12 teams – that is our target – all coming from different areas that I have mentioned: sailing, powerboats and motorsport,” says Basso.

“I think success will be when people understand how exciting the sport is, either on site or on TV or digitally. Building a kind of new sport entertainment with that definition.

“Last but not least, our success will be if we get thousands of people coming to watch the race on site and enjoying all the show we will put on. That will be defined as a success.”

This feature was originally published in BlackBook Motorsport’s special report on electrification, titled Leading the Charge, in June 2021. Access the full report here.


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