E1 seeks to make big splash with sister series' TV partners
By Jonathan Rest
E1, the new electric-powered boat championship launched in Monaco today, will target existing broadcast partners in sister electric motor racing series Formula E and Extreme E as it seeks to hit the water with a broad media footprint.
The UIM E1 World Electric Powerboat Series is the brainchild of Spanish businessman Alejandro Agag, the founder of Formula E and Extreme E, who has teamed up with Rodi Basso, the former director of motorsport at McLaren, and Raffaele Chiulli, president of the UIM, the international powerboating federation, on the project, which is set to debut in 2022.
The championship will be run in direct association with Extreme E, the SUV electric motor racing series that debuts next year to highlight areas damaged by climate change.
In its inaugural season, Extreme E will race in Greenland (Arctic), the Amazon (Rainforest), Saudi Arabia (Desert), Nepal (Mountain) and Senegal (Ocean), and, where possible E1 will race in the same locations, as well as additional city-based stops.
The Formula E media rights team has stuck a number of impressive broadcast deals for Extreme E in recent months, including with the likes of Discovery across North America and Europe, StarTimes and ESPN in sub-Saharan Africa, Fox Sports covering USA, Canada, the Caribbean, Australia and southeast Asia, Dubai Sports in the Middle East and Sony in the Indian subcontinent.
They will be the first point of contact for E1, particularly as some of the races will be staged alongside Extreme E.
Yanni Andreopoulos, chief marketing and commercial officer, E1, told Sportcal today: "We’ll be using our existing network that we’ve developed through the Formula E and Extreme E Championships, and approaching our current partners, to get the new series broadcast as far and wide as possible.
"Of course, this is an entirely new form of racing and a new type of Championship, so we’ll also be looking for new partners who can bring our content to different audiences. We want to reach as many people as possible, on all platforms, and will use a diverse range of content, offering our partners the best possible return on their investment. That’s the key objective of the E1 Series for our broadcast partners."
The new series has been exclusively licensed by the UIM, which will receive welcome revenues through the partnership.Andreopoulos explained: "There is a fee and revenue share projected with the UIM in order to help support the wider powerboating community. There is a per race licence fee model for all of the safety, security and race operations that the federation will run for E1."
SailGP, the nascent annual national teams sailing series, will also be involved in the project, both within the design process of the boats and providing support for event and logistics management.
Sir Russell Coutts, chief executive of SailGP, said: “This is an incredibly exciting partnership that allows us to continue accelerating change toward a cleaner future. We are powered by nature, and SailGP and E1 share a similar sense of purpose to be leading examples of sustainable technology.”
The E1 RaceBird boats, which will be driven by single pilots and be capable of achieving speeds of around 70 mph, 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.
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, the former Royal Mail Ship that has undergone a multi-million pound renovation using renewable energy technologies, to become the mobile operational base for the series.
The St Helena is already set to be the floating paddock for Extreme E.
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.
“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.”
UIM president Raffaele Chiulli is also president of the Global Association of International Sports Federations, which in June launched sustainability.sport, a web portal dedicated to issues such as climate change, economic inequality and social injustice.
He said today: “As the IOC-recognised world governing body for all powerboating activities, we at UIM are excited to have this opportunity to support and foster the preservation of the marine environment and to establish and implement good practices towards a more sustainable future...
“The launch of this initiative signals the UIM’s ability to lead by example, and to take action to preserve a healthy marine environment, which is vital for the future of our planet.”