The future is electric. That much has become clear over the past few years as various modes of transportation adapt newer technologies to integrate all electric systems with the aim of reducing emissions and creating a sustainable future.
The world of motor sports too is playing its part in ushering in new technology. We have Formula E – the highest class of competition for electrically powered single-seater racing cars. MotoGP is also not too far behind; it has had an all-electric series called MotoE since 2019.
Now, it is the turn of race boats. The UIM E1 World Championship is the world’s first all-electric race boat series. The first race takes place in Jeddah on February 2-3 next year. Up to 10 teams will compete in the inaugural season.
Among those taking part in the E1 championship is UAE-based Team Blue Rising. Under the guidance of League Sports Co (LSC) founder Adi K Mishra and India cricket superstar Virat Kohli as co-owners, Team Blue Rising are preparing for a new era in the world of racing and technology.
For Mishra, the E1 championship brought together some of the most integral parts of his business philosophy – sustainability, technology and inclusivity.
“We at LSC created an empirical formula where we have 7-10 criteria. Within that, sustainability and women in sports are two important aspects,” Mishra told The National.
“E1 is very interesting because of what they have done from an engineering standpoint. Not only have they made the power train electric, they have also designed it in a way the boat can take sharp turns. It is an incredible job they have done. I am an electrical and computer engineer and that drew me to the sport.”
“Some of the key aspects that E1 focuses on are sustainability, marine conservation, and diversity,” he explains. “Also, each team is to have one male and one female pilot. First the men will race and after that the women.”
The technology aspect of E1 is fascinating. Electric power train, hydrofoils and almost uniform boats make for an intriguing start.
“There have been two key innovations. One is hydrofoiling – the boats rise above the surface of the water and can race in about 12 feet of water. Now you can have races close to a city,” Mishra says.
“The other one is the electric power train. The way these boats have been engineered are fly by wire. They have done a lot of engineering around the motor and converted that to run entirely on electric.
“For the first couple of seasons, all boats will be the same. So the main decision as a team that you are taking is on propulsion system according to each race; Jeddah will be different from Venice and Monaco.”
It’s not just about technology. Sustainability and conservation are at the front and centre of Team Blue Rising’s plans; which dovetails the objectives of Cop28 in the UAE later this month.
“Sustainability is one of the key areas, not just for Blue Rising but LSC. One of the things we have done is we have partnered with Universal Carbon Registry (UCR). We are going to be offsetting all of our carbon outlay as a team.
“We have a strong focus on mangrove ecosystems as well. The reason for that is two fold. First is marine conservation. Deploying mangroves automatically builds a marine environment. And secondly, they are also excellent at offsetting carbon,” Mishra says of his UAE-based team. "We are looking to amplify blue carbon impact by restoring the marine ecosystem which in turn can help sequester carbon.
“The UAE has done an incredible job since the 1970s and 80s to deploy mangroves. We are finalising our plans on how we can support these programmes in the UAE.
“The UCR is going to be present at Cop28 and we are finalising how we can present our partnership together, during that timeframe. Being headquartered in the UAE, it has been an incredible place to have all these industries come together.”
Team Blue Rising, which aims to have a few lead pilots from the UAE, has some serious star power on board as well.
India cricketer Kohli has joined the team and brings with him one of the biggest social platforms in the world and powerful brand presence.
Kohli has been using his reach to spread awareness about various matters close to his heart. According to Mishra, conservation and women empowerment are issues Kohli feels passionately about and that helped bring both parties together.
“Virat is one of the best athletes of our generation. I was amazed about how passionate he is about sustainability and women empowerment. As soon as we aligned on those, it was just a matter of making sure the specifics are right,” Mishra says.
“He really wants to use his platform to empower sustainability causes and women in sports, which he has already been doing in cricket.”
The championship will run until September 2024. Other celebrities associated with the E1 championship are NFL legend Tom Brady, tennis superstar Rafael Nadal, former footballer Didier Drogba, and F1 driver Sergio Perez.