LONDON (Reuters) - Formula E and Extreme E founder Alejandro Agag launched the world’s first electric powerboat racing championship on Friday, presenting E1 as a perfect fit for his other electric series.
The series aims for a 2022 debut and features single-pilot RaceBird boats with hydrofoil technology and able to race at speeds of up to 60 knots -- equivalent to 111kph or 69 mph -- on seas and lakes.
The platform is being developed with SailGP, a high-tech sailing series run by five times America’s Cup winner Russell Coutts, who will be a technology and technical partner.
Agag told Reuters ahead of a presentation at the Monaco Yacht Club that the time was right for a series promoting electric boats.
“If there is not a market, we will create a market for this because it is something that is necessary,” said the Spaniard, who will be non-executive chairman with former F1 engineer Rodi Basso as chief executive.
“To electrify (transport on) the sea or the lakes or the rivers I think is necessary because it’s a natural step in fighting pollution in the water, which is a really serious problem.
“At the end of the day there is a market because there is a huge market against climate change.”
Formula E is a city-based all-electric series that is about to start its seventh season and has FIA world championship status.
Extreme E debuts next year, highlighting the effects of climate change by racing in remote and harsh environments including the Brazilian rain forest and Greenland. Six times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton is entering a team.
The series uses a refurbished former mail ship as a floating paddock and that would also house the powerboats at races outside Europe.
“We have a unique opportunity to be a hybrid almost, if you like, with Extreme E and Formula E,” said Agag of the E1 powerboat series which will have up to 12 teams and be sanctioned by the sport’s governing UIM.
He said the powerboats could race alongside Extreme E in locations such as Greenland or the Amazon but also in cities like Geneva or London without having to build any infrastructure.
Agag said Formula E had always wanted to race in Tokyo but faced too many urban problems. An electric powerboat race in the Bay of Tokyo would overcome that.
“I think this is going to combine the best of both. We are going to be in cities around the world and we are going to be in very remote locations highlighting climate change,” he said.
Basso, a former motorsport director at McLaren Applied Technologies and a keen sailor, told Reuters E1 would be a pure electric series inspired by sailing.
“The best moment when you are on a sailing boat is when you switch off the engine and you go only with the sails because there is the silence and immersion with nature,” he said.
Basso said the aim was to test the boat in Greenland at the end of August next year.
New Zealander Coutts saw common ground between electric powerboating and sailing.
“We are powered by nature, and SailGP and E1 share the innate desire and sense of purpose to be leading innovators of sustainable technology,” he said in a statement.
Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis
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