Tennis legend Rafael Nadal will become the latest team owner in the UIM E1 World Championship, the world’s first all-electric raceboat championship, which is slated to get underway later this year.
Team Nadal joins The Venice Racing Team – who threw their hat into the ring at last year’s Venice Boat Show and e-Regatta – as well as Team Mexico, whose ownership includes Checo Perez, the Formula 1 driver for Red Bull (auto) Racing.
Perez welcomed Nadal with a cheeky greeting via mobile phone. “Hola Rafa! It’s Checo Perez. It is great to hear that you are joining the (UIM) E1 World Championship with Team Spain,” he said.
“I know you have 22 Grand Slams, but let’s see who is the champion of the water in E1 . Vamos!”
“Checo!” Nadal said in response. “Your car is very fast but I as you know I’m from an island, so the water controls how far I can go! I’m always waiting for the races and it’s been real pleasure getting to know you. See you soon, a warm embrace and good luck with everything.”
The island Rafa refers to is Mallorca (Majorca), where he developed a passion not just for winning on the tennis court, but also for respecting the surrounding sea and ocean environment. He is hugely supportive of E1’s mission to accelerate clean mobility and restore marine ecosystems.
“I’m really excited to be getting involved with a project like E1 that values sustainability and will make a positive impact on society as a whole, especially in coastal communities.” said Nadal. “I also like the fact that E1 has a clear mission and is committed to preserving marine ecosystems.”
As part of that mission, E1 was one of the founding signatories of the Sports for Nature Framework launched at the UN Biodiversity Conference (COP15) in Montreal in December. The racing championship also formed its own Blue Action Programme, which will create and coordinate projects aimed at restoring marine ecosystems along the waterfronts of the tour’s host cities.
Another Mallorquin islander, Professor Carlos Duarte, Chief Scientist at E1, is the world-leading marine ecologist who will play an instrumental role in developing E1’s overall sustainability strategy.
The partnership with Nadal and E1 is expected to extend beyond racing to include the launch of an international thought leadership event focused on the theme of sport and sustainability. Some of the world’s most influential sustainability experts will gather at the Rafa Nadal Academy on Mallorca to examine the next level of thinking on sustainability and highlight the positive role that sport can play in advancing the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Nadal said “As a professional athlete, I recognize how making marginal gains has a positive impact on performance. To see this same competitive spirit and approach being applied at E1 to optimize the performance and efficiency of sustainable marine mobility is good news for our oceans.”
Professor Duarte said “I know Rafa shares my passion and commitment for marine conservation, and I’m looking forward to having his support on this important journey to deliver restoration of marine ecosystems at scale.”
E1 was founded by Aljandro Agag and Rodi Basso, who were inspired by the success of other forms of electric racing and how they act as a platform to accelerate sustainable technologies.
The aim is to apply that same ethos to racing on the water and help decarbonize future leisure boats and serve as a proving ground for leading edge electric technologies. All races are run under the auspices of the UIM – Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) – the world governing body for all powerboating activities.
Ten teams – the remainder to be announced shortly – will compete in some of the world’s leading water cities, each team racing a one-design electric hydrofoiling ‘Racebird’ conceived and brought to life by Norwegian designer Sophi Horne and naval architect/marine engineer Brunello Acampora.
The boat has a 150kW (≈220HP) electric outboard engineered by Mercury Racing and a 35 kWh immersion cooled battery by Austria’s Kreisel corporation, who first gained fame by electrifying Arnold Schwarzeneger’s Hummer. A Racebird is capable of speeds of 50 knots (93 kph or 58 mph).
E1 Co-FOunder and CEO Basso said “Having a team owner of Rafael Nadal’s stature demonstrates the importance of our mission and shows that people like Rafa are passionate about making a positive impact, creating a better world for future generations and ensuring they can enjoy our oceans and precious coastal areas for many years to come.”
“I love boats,” said Nadal, “I love competition and at the same time I know the E1 World Championship will help electric technology in the nautical world, so I am very excited about that. I also know that all around the races there are going to be programmes to protect and to restore marine eco-systems. That is super interesting, especially because I love the ocean. So I’ll be able to be part of something that important, makes me feel so happy.”