JEDDAH: The Union Internationale Motonautique has confirmed Jeddah will host the world’s first electric boat racing series in early 2024.
The UIM E1 World Championship is a developing electric boat racing series created by Formula E and Extreme E founder Alejandro Agag and Rodi Basso, a former director of motorsport at McLaren with a background in Formula One engineering.
The E1 teams and pilots will make their competitive debut in Jeddah using a course that is set to be situated on the city’s spectacular waterfront.
E1 organizers will be conducting feasibility studies and evaluating several potential race locations along the Red Sea, following which the final venue and event dates will be confirmed.
The event is in partnership with the Ministry of Sport and the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation, which have significant ambitions for the rapid growth of water sports in Saudi Arabia as part of its Vision 2030.
After signing the partnership with the UIM, Prince Sultan bin Fahd bin Salman Al-Saud, chairman of the Saudi Water Sports and Diving Federation, said: “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.”
Meanwhile, Basso, cofounder and CEO of E1, commented: “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.”
Each E1 race event on the calendar will take place over the course of two days consisting of practice sessions, qualifying rounds, and knockout races to determine the winner. RaceBird pilots will compete head-to-head in multiple heats with the fastest teams, advancing until a winner is crowned.
The participating teams will be given RaceBird boats and required to send two participants who will take turns driving for the duration of the race on the weekend.
Four teams have registered for the competition’s 10 participants so far.
Tennis star Rafael Nadal will participate in the Spanish team, while F1 driver Sergio Michel “Checo” Perez Mendoza will be with the Mexican team. The other two participants so far are the Venice team and the Drogba team, owned by Ivory Coast footballer Didier Drogba.