Making Waves: Nick Cooksey Attends the 2024 E1 Series in Jeddah

E1 Series

February 2024 witnessed the birth of a new era in motorsport: the UIM E1 World Championship, or the E1 Series as it is commonly referred to. Featuring high-speed electric race boats, it kicked off its inaugural season in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia last month (February 2nd and 3rd).

The E1 Series marks a significant shift in the world of powerboat racing. Unlike its gas-guzzling counterparts, the series features the revolutionary RaceBird, a sleek, hydrofoiling vessel powered by an electric motor, making for an eco-friendly yet thrilling competition. Each boat has two pilots, which according to the rules must always consist of a man and a woman.

An interesting aspect of the E1 Series is the involvement of celebrities as team owners. Legendary figures such as tennis champion Rafael Nadal, football icon Didier Drogba, and music superstars Marc Anthony and DJ Steve Aioki, lent their star power to the competition. I, with other members of the media, had the chance to meet with some of them to discuss their involvement and rivalry among themselves – which we learned was real, but good-natured.

The inaugural race weekend was filled with great competition and unexpected twists. Eight teams, each piloting their state-of-the-art RaceBirds, battled it out on the challenging course. Team Miami, owned by Marc Anthony and led by the dynamic duo of Anna Glennon and Erik Stark, emerged victorious on Friday’s qualifying races – only to be beaten by Team Brady, owned by American Football superstar Tom Brady and piloted by Sam Coleman and Emma Kimilainen, in the finals the next day.

Attending the event, I felt a similar atmosphere to that I experienced at any F1 Grand Prix, only with less noise… and a lot more water. There’s even the equivalent of the Paddock Club, full of glamourous-looking people having fun while enjoying tasty food and refreshments – but no alcohol, obviously.

Jeddah’s Corniche, with its waterfront promenade and clear waters, served as the perfect location for this event. I couldn’t help but notice how much Jeddah has changed since my last visit over ten years ago – and for the better. The city that we saw was modern and pristine, and the overall atmosphere of the place seemed much more relaxed than before. The women in our group were wearing normal summer clothes and dresses and none felt uncomfortable doing so, or needed at any time to ‘cover-up’.

The E1 Series serves as a platform for promoting sustainability and innovation within the marine industry. The series actively works towards protecting marine ecosystems and fostering the development of clean technologies. The RaceBird itself embodies these efforts, showcasing cutting-edge electric propulsion systems and sustainable materials.

The success of the E1 Series’ debut in Jeddah likely paves the way for an exciting future. The series will continue its inaugural season, with races scheduled to take place later this year in iconic locations including Venice, Monaco, and Hong Kong.

The next E1 GP will be in Venice on May 11-12 2024.