By Jerry MonaPublished On: August 4, 2023456 words
Most people have heard about Formula One racing but have you ever heard of E1? This is a new electric boat racing circuit that was recently in the news because Tom Brady just joined the likes of other prominent athletes in buying a racing team. (You can see his announcement here).
What Are RaceBirds?
RaceBirds are specially designed, futuristic-looking, boats that sort of resemble a Formula One race car with wings or hydrofoils to enable them to glide over the water with less friction/resistance than a conventional hull. They are powered with a custom Mercury Racing electric outboard that is roughly equivalent to a 200 HP engine with a top speed of approximately 58 mph.
About the E1 Racing Circuit
The E1 Series is the first, and only, all-electric raceboat championship circuit. According to the organization’s website, “the championship was established to create a new, competitive on-water racing proposition based on clean technologies to protect our waters and coastal areas.”
All teams will run the same boats during the first two years of the competition. After that, it will be opened up to allow teams to manufacture and develop their own electric technologies.
All races will take place close to shore. Besides being more spectator friendly, I suspect this is because these special foiling boats would not do well in rough water – unlike traditional v-hull boats.
Schedule and Locations
The racing series was initially scheduled to start in September of 2023. However, that has been delayed – presumably because they did not have enough teams (they are aiming for 10 – 12 teams to compete).
Each race will occur over a two-day period and the first stop is currently scheduled for January of 2024 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It will continue in other Middle-Eastern and European cities that same year. The city of Miami was originally slated to host one of the events but has yet to be rescheduled following the delay.
Of course, the start of the E1 racing series will depend on when enough teams are involved. However, given the high-profile team owners that have recently come on board, I suspect that more will be added fairly soon.
While the impetus for this racing circuit is to help promote clean and sustainable energy, it is possible that the competition could spur innovations that could benefit ordinary boaters down the road – much like it has with auto racing. However, given the challenges with electric propulsion in marine applications vs. automobiles (e.g., no regenerative braking), I don’t anticipate seeing any large electric outboard motors or boats with foils on my home lake anytime soon.
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