Sophie Horne

How did you grow to be concerned with designing the Racebird for the E1 World Championship, the most recent electric-vehicle racing collection created by Alejandro Agag following Formulation E and Excessive E?

I’ve been within the trade for over a decade. Certainly one of my early design jobs was with a superyacht constitution and administration firm. At first, I used to be concerned within the interiors of the yachts for refits. Nonetheless, my boss noticed some exterior sketches I did throughout my free time and stated he noticed a future for me on this route, though I by no means believed I might design for myself someday. He launched me to naval architects who invited me to tender for yacht designs, which was a great introduction.

I then continued my schooling and studied in Norway. Oslo is named the capital of electrical automobiles, so I noticed the transition to electrical automobiles and the transfer to electrical within the marine trade. On the identical time, Uber and the sharing platforms began. Mixing all this collectively, I had the concept of making an attempt to make boats extra obtainable and to supply an electrical boat, so I began Seabird Applied sciences.

With a single Mercury Racing E1-X electrical outboard, the 23ft Racebird has a 150kW peak output plus 35kWh battery capability

I used to be a bit of sluggish to purchase my very own electrical automobile as a result of the designs had been typically very ‘cute’ and bubble-like. For me, once you purchase garments or a automobile, you need them to signify your picture, so I used to be searching for one thing extra glossy and horny.

I then noticed Formulation E’s Gen2 electrical automobiles (launched within the 2018-19 season) and beloved them. They had been type of my design inspiration and I needed to search out another person who had the identical imaginative and prescient. The Gen2 designs had been very cool and the occasions and the way they had been offered had been very aligned to what I used to be searching for.

Formulation E’s Gen2 automobiles impressed Horne’s Racebird design

To supply my boat, I began with a sharing platform and tried to discover a associate who already constructed boats. I additionally researched the batteries, to have a look at adapting the expertise from electrical racing automobiles to the marine world and create a brand new product.

I went to a Formulation E race and met Alejandro Agag, the king of electrical motorsports. I offered my concept for a 7m electrical leisure boat, not for racing. I had been growing it for a yr and had a full marketing strategy.

Horne with E1 co-founders Alejandro Agag (left) and Rodi Basso (proper)

It was extra for me to have a chat with him, in order that possibly he may make introductions. A month later, he referred to as me again and needed me to do a extra detailed presentation, then he grew to become my first investor. I by no means believed he would grow to be so concerned.

How did your preliminary electrical boat design evolve into the Racebird we see immediately?

I had moved to London and was totally targeted on the personal boats. Nonetheless, I used to be sharing the identical places of work as Formulation E, so I used to be surrounded by racing individuals. Throughout Covid, Alejandro took a stroll with Rodi Basso (CTO of Seabird Applied sciences from September 2020-August 2022, now CEO of E1).

Seabird mannequin launch at Yacht Membership de Monaco in 2021

Issues had slowed down, so I believe they had been a bit of bored they usually got here up with this lovely concept of the E1 World Championship, introducing electrical racing to the water.

The concept overlapped with the beginning of Excessive E, offroad racing in electrical SUVs, which began in 2021. I believe they had been on this artistic bubble and seeing what they may do with electrical racing. By then, they knew the applied sciences and had the provider networks, having earlier arrange the Formulation E highway racing collection.

Horne toasts with Prince Albert of Monaco

After they conceived E1, they requested me to vary focus for a yr to design a raceboat. The temporary was ‘make one thing cool’. That was it. Two months later, we had been in Monaco with a 3D render. All of it occurred very quick, nevertheless it was carried out to showcase the imaginative and prescient.

We basically sportified the leisure boat idea I used to be engaged on, with the foiling system and all the things, and it appeared to work. The primary venture was ‘Frankenstein’, the place we used an present hull and fitted the foils to check them. Then we did a prototype.

A Racebird on the E1 check occasion in Rotterdam final September

The present boats are being inbuilt Italy and the primary 4 hulls had been used for the E1 preview check occasion in Rotterdam in September 2023. I used to be fairly nervous, however all of them labored. It has all occurred so quick. We’re not allowed to go over 50 knots, though they are often set as much as go quicker and we’ve reached 60.

Have the groups acquired room to adapt the boats, like with automobiles in Formulation One, or is it strictly one-design?

For the primary season, it is available in one bundle. Having seen F1 and the distinction in budgets of the groups, we would like a extra even enjoying discipline to see who the very best driver is.

Poster of pilots for 2024 E1 collection

Excessive E began in 2021 with Lewis Hamilton, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button amongst crew house owners, and Sebastian Loeb among the many drivers. Nonetheless, E1 has gone to the following stage when it comes to celeb crew house owners with Tom Brady, Rafa Nadal, Virat Kohli, Didier Drogba, Sergio Perez, Steve Aoki, Marc Anthony and Marcelo Claure. Do you assume the timing now could be proper to help e-mobility?

It’s loads about timing but in addition the community that Alejandro has developed in Formulation E and Excessive E. Persons are searching for greener options and tasks. Nonetheless, I’ve been blown away by the help and we had been all a bit of bit shocked. I by no means dared to assume stars like this might be a part of E1.

Horne with Tom Brady

Nonetheless, for instance, once you speak to Tom Brady, it’s fascinating to listen to that he’s very passionate and has a relationship with the water. It’s one thing very expensive to him as a result of he’s spent numerous time on the water and has so many recollections from taking his children to sea, so it’s a heartfelt venture. The house owners have taken their time to think about E1 they usually need to be part of it.

The 2024 collection opens in Jeddah. Are you enthusiastic about working in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, which has such a powerful historical past in powerboat racing?

Completely and that is additionally related to timing, with the Crimson Sea improvement and the Gulf area’s deal with growing sustainable expertise for all its new tasks and infrastructure. At Seabird, we additionally see an enormous marketplace for our upcoming merchandise within the many luxurious resorts.

Racebirds being trialled in Jeddah

E1 begins in Jeddah, whereas Riyadh already hosts Formulation 1’s Saudi Arabian Grand Prix (March 7-9, 2024) and the area loves racing occasions. The Gulf has a number of the greatest crowds and the area is already very engaged with this kind of spectacle.

Is Seabird wanting past the Racebird and E1 collection with its personal merchandise?

The Racebird is our entry product. We’re additionally growing a Seabird of about 15m and three smaller fashions, nearer to my authentic mission of creating boats extra obtainable. We’ll be utilizing foils on all our boats.

2024 E1 World Championship schedule

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