The calendar for the inaugural season of the E1 Series all-electric powerboating competition has been revealed.
The opening race of the new series, which is a sibling of motor racing’s Formula E and Extreme E, will take place in the Saudi Arabian port city of Jeddah in January 2024. E1 has said it is in the process of evaluating potential locations along the Red Sea coast but the course “will be situated on the city’s spectacular waterfront” with spectators able to view the action easily from the land.
Of the destination for the opener, Alejandro Agag, co-founder and chairman of E1, said: “Having had the experience of launching two electric racing championships, I know the importance of the first race and choosing a location that is impactful and showcases the sport at its best.
“Having Jeddah as the first E1 race was an obvious choice, thanks to the backing of our investors at the [Saudi Arabian sovereign wealth] Public Investment Fund and the continued support from the Ministry of Sport and the Saudi Water Sports & Diving Federation. I’d like to thank them for their support. Seeing the RaceBirds battling for position on the Red Sea will be a thrilling spectacle and is the perfect venue to launch the UIM E1 World Championship.”
Prince Sultan bin Fahd bin Salman Al Saud, chairman of the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation, added: “This partnership with E1 will help us to accelerate the growth of water sports in Saudi Arabia. The exciting foiling racing with the world’s best pilots is the perfect catalyst to inspire participation in water sports amongst the 9 million people living on the Red Sea coast, whose lives will be transformed through the sustainable technologies being developed and showcased by E1.
“It will be an honor to host in Jeddah the inaugural event of this exciting new World Championship.”
Following the first race in Jeddah, E1 will take its second round to another, yet-to-be-confirmed location in the Middle East in February 2024.
That will be followed by a doubleheader in April and May of next year in Italy’s Venice before another yet-to-be-confirmed location in Europe in June.
The two final rounds of the opening season will follow in the principality of Monaco in July and the Netherlands’ Rotterdam in September.
Rodi Basso, co-founder and chief executive of E1, said of the plans for the first season: “It’s a fantastic day for the UIM E1 Championship as we confirm our first-ever racing calendar. After opening the racing in the Middle East, the action will move to Europe where we will be racing in the historic and beautiful harbors of Venice and Monaco, before culminating in the vibrant port of Rotterdam. We keep the door open on new venues for the calendar and expect to confirm very soon. It’s an exciting time for the UIM E1 Championship as we attract more teams and cities to be part of our fast-growing journey.”
As Rupert Hunter, chief commercial officer of E1, told GlobalData Sport earlier this year, the calendar for the opening season has been designed to minimize the environmental impact of the series while factoring in the logistics of launching and touring the series close to where its RaceBird hydrofoil boats are being built.
The plan from seasons two and three, however, is to begin expanding into the Americas, Asia, and Australasia.
The racing format will see teams of male and female pilots compete head-to-head in knockout heats, with the winners continuing to progress to a four-team final.
Teams confirmed so far are owned by the likes of soccer’s Didier Drogba and tennis’ Rafa Nadal, with E1 using celebrity involvement as a means of driving interest in the series. It has said more teams will be announced soon.