Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal is the latest team owner in the UIM E1 World Championship, the world’s first all-electric boat league. The 22-time Grand Slam Winner has yet to name the team. Nadal’s is the third team announced so far. There will be 10 to 12 teams in the series, all with two boats and two pilots. The season is scheduled to start later this year.
The E1 series was cofounded by Alejandro Agag, who also founded and oversaw the Formula E electric car racing circuit, and Extreme E, electric off-road racing. “My ambition is for the E1 Series to accelerate the adoption of electric boats, to demonstrate how exciting they can be and to promote electric solutions and clean-water mobility to marine travel worldwide,” Agag told Robb Report when the circuit was first announced.
The “RaceBird” boats were designed by Norwegian designer Sophi Horne and Italian naval architect Bruno Acampora. They look like something out of a sci-fi movie, with a small cockpit, hydrofoils and electric motors developed by Mercury Marine. The will have a top speed of 69 mph, though battery time is limited to 15 or 20 minutes. “There are so many lessons in electric technology that could be transferred to the marine industry,” co-founder and CEO Rodi Bassi added.
Nadal, originally from Mallorca, signed on partly for the sustainability component of the series. “I like the fact that E1 has a clear mission and is committed to preserving marine ecosystems,” he said in a statement. The series’ Blue Action Programme is designed to create projects aimed at restoring marine ecosystems along city waterfronts. It will be led by Professor Carlos Duarte, chief scientist at E1 and also from Mallorca.
The tennis star is also a yacht owner. His 80-foot Sunreef power catamaran, Great White, can often be seen in the waters around Mallorca in the summers.
Nadal is also continuing sustainability work through his Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca. The academy will host a conference exploring how sustainability can be expanded through sports.
Others in the UIM E1 World Championship circuit include the Venice Racing Team as well as the team formed by Formula 1 driver Sergio Perez. The organizers said that other teams would soon be announced.